The Hippo and the Tortoise

 Strange But True Stories of Animal Co-operationHippo - cleaning teeth

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The Hippo And The TortoiseA Hippo Called Owen

A baby hippo, which was rescued after floods in Kenya, has befriended a tortoise.  The one-year-old hippo calf christened Owen was found dehydrated by wildlife rangers on the shores of the Indian Ocean.  Apparently, the rest of the Hippopotamus herd was washed out to sea.

Owen was put in an enclosure at a wildlife sanctuary in the coastal city of Mombasa, also in the enclosure was a male tortoise called Mzee.   Notice that they are both of a similar colour.  (In Swahili, Mzee means old man).

'They sleep together, eat together and are inseparable, 'reports park official Pauline Kimoti.' Since Owen arrived on the 27 December, the tortoise behaves like a mother to it.'

Ms Kimoti said that if the 300kg hippo continued to thrive then in the next few weeks they would allow the public to see the unlikely pair together before they are separated.

Long term they hope to pair Owen with Cleo, a lonely female hippo who is currently in a separate enclosure.

Mzee and Owen are the latest in a series of unusual bondings in the wild that have surprised zoologists in Kenya.  What a lovely story of a hippo and a tortoise.  See our PowerPoint presentation of Owen and Mzee's story.

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Clive of India's TortoiseClive of India's Tortoise Addwaitya

On 23rd of March 2006, a giant tortoise called 'Addwaitya' died in the Kolkata zoo in India.  The tortoise had been the pet of Robert Clive (Clive of India), the famous British officer who did so much to establish India as a colony.  Estimates suggest that this Aldabran tortoise called 'Addwaitya' was about 250 years old.  Indeed 'Addwaitya' would have to be at least that age as Clive of India died in 1774.

The name 'Addwaitya' means 'The One and Only' in Bengali, it is claimed to be the oldest tortoise in the world, unfortunately there are gaps in the provenance.

'Historical records show he was a pet of British general Robert Clive of the East India Company and had spent several years in his sprawling estate before he was brought to the zoo about 130 years ago, 'West Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Barman said.

'We have documents to prove that he was more than 150 years old, but we have pieced together other evidence like statements from authentic sources and it seems that he is more than 250 years old, 'he said.  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.

Will and Guy hope that they will use carbon dating to confirm the age of Addwaitya.  There are rumours that you can date tortoises by their rings.  However, this is nowhere as accurate as tree ring dating.  Because of the age and importance of Addwaitya, we hope they will find the necessary finds for a carbon dating.

This breed of Aldabra tortoises are native to the Seychelles in general and to the island of Aldabra in particular.  It is believed that tortoises are the longest lived of all animals, it is not uncommon for them reach their 100th birthday.

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How to Find your Lost Tortoise: How to find your lost tortoise

An animal lover was so fed up with looking for her tortoises she has fitted them with a tracker device.  Jane Williams, who runs a tortoise sanctuary from her home in Colchester, uses a handheld scanner to hunt down her 60 animals, reports the East Anglian Daily Times. The tracker device is attached to their shells with a removable sticky pad.

Ms Williams said, 'I think they are absolutely fantastic.  Contrary to popular belief tortoises can actually move quite fast. They are real escape artists. They can climb walls, hide in bushes and bury themselves. We find them in all sorts of unusual places. It is amazing how difficult it can be to find them.'

Interesting Facts About Tortoises

  • Giant tortoises can weigh over 500 lbs.  This makes some tortoises strong enough for humans to ride on their backs.
  • Tortoises evolved over 200 million years ago and are relatively unchanged over time.  Their success in adapting to the environment is probably due to the protective ability of their shell or carapace.  This shell is made up of 60 bone-like plates. 
    ...(v2r)
  • There are nearly 40 different species of tortoise The largest species of tortoise living today are found in the Galapagos islands, they can weigh up to 500lbs - try lifting that!
  • If you see a whole gang, they can be referred to as a 'creep' of tortoises.
  • It seems silly to even measure their speed when turtles are unlikely to move more than 100 meters in an hour.  Hence a 'creep of tortoises' is not a bad collective noun.
  • Good news: tortoises cannot stick their tongue out at you; yet surprisingly, they have good eyesight.
  • You may recall the famous Aesop's fable featuring the Tortoise and the Hare.  Ever the boaster, the hare taunts the tortoise that he can race him.  The hare rushes off into a lead, but then fools around and falls asleep.  When the hare wakes he is just in time to see the plodding tortoise crossing the finishing line and winning their race.

A Tortoise Races a Bear

A tortoise and bear met one spring day at a lake.  A polar bear agreed to referee their race around the lake.  While the bear took the land route, the tortoise dived through a hole in the ice.  Then at the next hole it appeared ahead of the bear.  The bear who was so confident of winning that he was only loping along, began to run.

Then at the second hole, the turtle was still, ahead; as he was at the third, fifth, tenth and finally the last hole.  While the bear tried frantically to catch-up with the tortoise he was totally out-paced.  As referee the polar bear declared the tortoise had won the race, the seals cheered, even the other bears clapped.

When everyone had gone home, the tortoise tapped three times on the ice.  Up came his brothers, his sisters, his cousins who had been manning the intervening holes in the ice.  When the whole family emerged, the tortoise said, 'we may be slow of foot, but we are not slow of wit'.

Footnote:
Please send us your interesting facts about tortoises

Cat and Tortoise

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Go on, give me a ride!

Cat Adopts Bird

A cat has adopted a bird which hurt itself when it fell out of its nest in Brazil and cannot fly.

The cat, called Chiquita, has reportedly raised the bird as if it was its mother in Porto Alegre, Brazil. They eat from the same plate and the cat even uses the bird to catch other birds to eat.

Chiquita's owner, Nair de Souza, has named the bird Pitico, reports Zero Hora.

Mrs Souza said: 'Pitico has even started to eat meat, because the two of them only eat together.  But Chiquita uses Pitico to help her catch other birds, it is really unbelievable!'

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