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Iowa museum says African leopard tortoise was never stolen; employee lied to keep up the story

An Iowa museum says an employee hid a presumed stolen African leopard tortoise in an elevator after finding the 18-pound reptile trapped behind paneling in her enclosure.

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque says the employee's bizarre move was a misguided attempt to prevent further embarrassment after officials announced Tuesday that they believed Cashew had been taken as a prank.

Cashew was discovered in the elevator on Thursday and officials said they supposed the regretful thief had smuggled her back inside.

President and CEO Jerry Enzler says Friday that an employee actually found Cashew some time earlier, wedged behind a wall panel. The employee then put her in the elevator to keep up the impression she had been stolen.

Enzler says the employee will be reprimanded.

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