Kiki, a giant tortoise at France's the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, died last week at the age of 146, according to Michel Saint Jalme, deputy director of the Paris Zoo. He-yes, Kiki was a he- was about 75 in giant tortoise years, since these big reptiles can live to be 188 and even older.
Staff at the zoo say an infection cut Kiki's life short.
It's believed that Jonathan, another giant tortoise, is the current tortoise age record holder, at around 178 years of age. He's living out his senior years in luxury on the beautiful island of St. Helena. Jonathan could be the oldest animal on earth now.
(Image: An Aldabra giant tortoise; Credit: Adrian Pingstone)
But Kiki was obviously no age lightweight either. Literally, because he weighed over 551 pounds and had to be fork-lifted out of his exhibit. And consider that during his lifetime:
the Civil War took place Abraham Lincoln was shot Charles Darwin was writing his Queen Victoria ruled England the first "modern" drawing of Santa Claus was made (by Thomas Nast)
Well, you get the point. Kiki was impressively old.
His caretakers at the zoo mourned the loss and said Kiki's "charisma" and "demonstrative lovemaking" drew quite a curious human crowd. When excited, Kiki would chase females, in as much as giant tortoises can run, while grunting so loudly that his love calls could be heard throughout the entire zoo. He'd even get so excited that he'd pursue inanimate objects, such as a particular wheelbarrow that seemed to strike his fancy.
According to a report in the London Guardian, Kiki arrived at his Paris home in 1923. Giant tortoises at that time were on the brink of extinction. Many tortoise species are still listed as being either "vulnerable" or "endangered" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Kiki is one of quite a few old tortoises that we've lost in recent years. A few examples are Harriet, the Gapápagos tortoise. She died three years ago in Australia at the age of around 175. And then there's Timothy, a spur-thighed tortoise, who passed away in 2004 at the age of about 165.
If you're curious about what was the oldest animal that ever lived, the title probably belongs to a koi fish named Hanako. She's thought to have died at the ripe old age of 226.