175 Year Old Galapagos Tortoise At Australia Zoo - FaunaClassifieds
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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 10-10-2005, 11:30 PM   #1
Clay Davenport
175 Year Old Galapagos Tortoise At Australia Zoo

SOON to turn 175 years of age, Harriet the Galapagos tortoise - possibly the world's oldest living creature - is finally getting the recognition she surely deserves.
Harriet, which was first taken from her home on the Galapagos Islands, off South America, by English naturalist Charles Darwin, is now the subject of a book about her amazing life.

Harriet was hatched in 1830. Five years later, she and two other tortoises were collected by Darwin and taken to England aboard his ship, HMS Beagle.

The three, then named Tom, Dick and Harry, were cared for by Darwin, but five years of freezing English winters and a lack of sunshine reduced them to a state of virtual hibernation and they were brought to Australia in 1842.

Dick died in the late 1880s and it is not known where its remains were buried, while Tom died in 1949.

In 1960, a visiting director of Hawaii's Honolulu Zoo examined Harry and found he was a she, a move that prompted the name Harriet. She now lives at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo.

Three other tortoises are believed to have lived to a greater age than Harriet but have died.

Of the 15 sub-species of giant tortoise, some weighing more than 200kg, only 11 remain and it is expected a fifth will become extinct.

Their numbers have been depleted due to harvesting by seamen and the release of feral animals which have destroyed their food and eaten their eggs.

Harriet will celebrate her 175th birthday with a party at the zoo on November 15.

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