counter statistics

Friday, June 23, 2006

Harriet the Tortoise Dies


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.

The extremely elderly tortoise, 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 150-kilogram (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, who had made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest living animal, 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."

Harriet was originally named Harry, as she was mistakenly identified as male, an error which was not rectified for more than a century.

Hat Tip: Pharyngula.