Meet Wasabi: The Dress-Wearing African Therapy Tortoise Who Makes People Feel Better

Wasabi is a 16 year old, 42 pound African spur tortoise who works as a therapy pet. Oh, and she loves wearing dresses.

Like any animal who works in a therapy capacity, Wasabi had to pass an evaluation to be certified as a therapy pet. Therapy Pets Unlimited performed her evaluation, which covered calmness and friendliness.


Wasabi’s dress-wearing days started when her owner Lisa Chicarella put her in a diaper for her therapy visits. “You can imagine the remarks we got. A giant turtle in a diaper. So, my friend made her a dress to cover the diaper,” Lisa said.

Wasabi weighs about 42 pounds now, and could eventually reach 100 pounds. Her hobbies include pushing furniture around the living room.


Wasabi was eight years old when Lisa adopted her. She was so shy that she hardly came out of her shell for two weeks.


“I gave her the name Wasabi. She was so shy I wanted to give her a name that said she was hot stuff. Little did I know how well she would live up to it,” said Lisa.

While dogs are a more traditional therapy animal, tortoises do have their advantages. “She’s a distraction. It’s not every day you see a giant turtle in a dress,” explained Lisa.

Lisa Chicarella

The idea of having Wasabi serve as a therapy animal came about when another of Lisa’s pets, a dog who was in training to become a therapy pet, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Lisa thought that Wasabi was up to the challenge, and as it turns out, she was right.

“She gives people the opportunity to forget, even if it’s just for a little while. She’s my girl and I wouldn’t trade her for the world,” said Lisa.

My Modern Met

For more information about Wasabi’s adventures as a therapy tortoise, and to find out more about the services that Therapy Pets Unlimited offers, visit their website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.