African turtle hitches ride on pope's plane

LUANDA, Angola Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:55pm EDT

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LUANDA, Angola (Reuters) - Pope Benedict flew from Cameroon to Angola on Friday with an unusual traveling companion -- a turtle.

Just before he left Cameroon, the pope met a group of Baka Pygmies, hunter-gatherers from the country's rain forests. They came to the grounds of the Vatican embassy in the capital Yaounde and gave him the turtle of about 30 cm (one foot) long.

Taken aboard the plane in a wicker cage, it made the flight to Luanda in the first class section of an Alitalia jet along with the Vatican entourage, without apparent discomfort.

The Vatican said it was not yet clear if the turtle -- which has not yet been named -- would be left in Angola or find a new home in the Vatican gardens.

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