California Woman Goes Viral for 22-Year Friendship With Pet Tortoise She Received for Christmas as a Child


Some friendships are destined to last a lifetime, defying all odds and capturing the hearts of those fortunate enough to witness their unbreakable bond. In the case of Caitlin Doran, a California native, her friendship with Tiptoe, the African tortoise she received as a Christmas gift 22 years ago, has not only endured the test of time but has also become an online sensation. Their heartwarming and enchanting relationship has resonated with millions of people on social media, making them feel part of something truly extraordinary.

Caitlin Doran and her pet tortoise

As a young girl, Caitlin Doran harbored a deep fascination for unique animals and craved a companion with whom she could create lasting memories. When she was just 7 years old, she made an audacious request to Santa Claus: an African tortoise. To her astonishment, her Christmas wish was granted, setting in motion the beginning of a remarkable friendship that would traverse decades.

Over the years, Tiptoe, once a tiny hand-sized tortoise, has flourished into an impressive 175-pound reptile. Doran and Tiptoe live in Los Angeles, where they've had to figure out the best way to navigate their lives in the bustling city. Despite Tiptoe's impressive size of 175 pounds, they regularly go on walks through Doran's neighborhood. The sight of the gentle tortoise strolling through the streets never fails to bring joy to both locals and visitors alike. Tiptoe has become an easy conversation starter, drawing people from all walks of life to say hello.

Caitlin Doran and her pet tortoise

It wasn't until the COVID-19 pandemic hit that Doran decided to introduce Tiptoe to her TikTok followers. Spending months in quarantine and unsure of what the future held, she turned to the popular social media platform for entertainment. What started as a spoof of food preparation videos quickly turned into a viral sensation. Doran's video showcasing what she makes for Tiptoe to eat garnered an astonishing 12.4 million views.

Caitlin Doran and her pet tortoise

For the past three years, Doran has been creating fresh and fun content for her growing legion of viewers. While some videos are meticulously planned, others capture the organic moments of Tiptoe's daily life. Given that tortoises can be challenging to direct, Doran adapts to Tiptoe's whims and continually thinks of new recipes for him to try. From tacos to charcuterie boards, she creates meals that not only nourish but also serve as enrichment for her beloved pet.

As Doran shares her journey with Tiptoe, she has discovered a community of like-minded individuals in the "tortoise community" online. She credits this community for their collective learning and support, as they exchange tips and insights on caring for their unique pets. The positivity and warmth within this online tribe have proven to be a refreshing contrast to the negativity often found on the internet. Through Tiptoe, Doran has found a place where kindness and acceptance reign.

Caitlin Doran and her pet tortoise

Caring for a pet as large and long-lived as Tiptoe comes with its fair share of challenges. Doran acknowledges that keeping up with his growth and aging requires the modification of their living arrangements. Despite these obstacles, she remains dedicated to Tiptoe and values the lessons he has taught her. One significant lesson she has learned from her slow and steady friend is the importance of slowing down in life. In a world that often rewards speed and constant activity, Tiptoe has taught Doran the value of embracing a more measured pace.


I can’t believe I have a 22 year old 🐢🥹💕 happy bday big T

♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) - Fleetwood Mac

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