A giant tortoise, thought to be more than 250 years old, has died of liver failure in Calcutta, India.
Named Addwaitya, which means the One and Only in Bengali, he had a long and storied history that goes back to the early days of the British colonial empire.
Historical records show he was caught by British sailors in the Seychelles Islands and carried to India where he was presented to Robert Clive, a rising star in the British East-India company. West Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Barman said he spent many years on Clive’s estate before he retired to the local zoo in Calcutta about 130 years ago. [Link]
Interestingly the Times of India titles its article about Addwaitya’s passing, “Tortoise that saw Sepoy Mutiny dies.” Now because I blog for Sepia Mutiny I am going to eat that headline right up and not challenge it by pointing out that turtles usually don’t get caught up in insurrection or survey the ranks of the enemy.
The minister said details about Addwaitya’s early life showed that British sailors had brought him from the Seychelles islands and presented him to Clive, who was rising fast in the East India Company’s military hierarchy.
On Thursday, the tortoise’s enclosure wore a deserted look.
“This is a sad day for us. We will miss him very much,” a zoo keeper said. [Link]
p>Addwaitya was an Aldabra tortoise:
They are generally shy, though when agitated they often release a foul-smelling, musky liquid that can be targeted at enemies from up to 3 feet away. [Link]
We’ve actually been looking for a pet to guard our bunker.