St Mary's students meet Pythagoras the tortoise

Henry Bertram, a Maths teacher at St Mary’s School, Cambridge, has enabled students to have access to a calming diversion during the lockdown: his 'tortoise cam', featuring his pet tortoise, Pythagoras (or 'Pythag' for short).

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4th June 2020 — Pythag is 4 years old, and was given to Mr Bertram when he was just a few months old by one of his Maths classes.

The girls have been enjoying watching Pythag wander around his pen and eat a healthy breakfast – a salad of lamb's lettuce and pea shoots, garnished with viola flowers and a sprinkling of calcium powder. The calming footage was particularly welcome during the recent Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place on 18-24 May 2020.

Mr Bertram commented: “I really enjoy watching Pythag roam around – it's really relaxing and interesting to watch what he does each day. He is really surprising in lots of ways – for example, it's absolutely untrue that tortoises can't move quickly, although they do like to rest a lot in between their bursts of speed. He is also an amazing climber – after many attempts he has finally figured out how to scale the vertical wall of his enclosure and escape onto the windowsill. Now we let him roam around much more, and in lockdown he probably walks further than I do on some days!”

He added: “I can't always do the tortoise cam – when I find him in the morning, he has often escaped and is clearly in need of a runaround. But when he's still there, it's really calming to watch him shuffling around and eating his breakfast.”

Pets have been very welcome at St Mary’s as a means of improving the mental health and well-being of both staff and students. During the school’s ‘Well-Being at Work Week’ in March, staff were treated to a visit by golden retriever Sunny, and a retired guide dog – a black Labrador called Texas.

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