Sunday, June 25, 2006

So What Would That Be In Turtle Years?

Oldest Animal in the World Dies at 176

SYDNEY (AFP) — A 176-year-old giant tortoise believed to have been studied by famed English naturalist Charles Darwin, has died in Australia after a short illness. Harriet was hatched on the Galapagos Islands in 1830 but lived out her final years at Australia Zoo in southeast Queensland where she was the star attraction.

Senior veterinarian John Hangar said the 330-pound reptile died on Thursday night after a short illness.

"She had been sick yesterday with, in effect, heart failure," Hangar told ABC radio.

"She had a fairly acute heart attack and thankfully passed away quietly overnight."

Hangar said Harriet had been credited with helping Darwin pioneer his theory of evolution.

"It's thought she may have been taken off there (Galapagos) by Charles Darwin," he said. "She's spent a period of time in Britain and found herself at the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane from about 1850 or 1860 onwards and eventually she found her way up to Australia Zoo."

Originally named Harry, Harriet was mistakenly identified as male at first, an error not rectified for more than a century.

Harriet made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest living animal. However, a tortoise who died in India earlier this year, Addwaita, was said to be about 250 years old, according to the Calcutta zoo where he had been living since 1875.

Source: USA Today

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