Zoo shells out to honour 100-year-old tortoise

When he hatched, there was no such thing as the NHS, Queen Elizabeth II had not been born and the idea of man being on the moon was nothing more than a pipe dream. Yet more than 100 years in, Darwin the tortoise is still plodding on.

The 35-stone Aldabra tortoise was one of the first animals to arrive at Blackpool Zoo in 1972 and, although there were no detailed records of his history, keepers believe the Testudinidae is more than 100 years old.

The occasion was marked on 12 February – the birthday of the centenarian’s namesake, Charles Darwin.

Keepers celebrated with bunting and a display, while Darwin enjoyed his favourite treat – Watermelon.

Zookeeper Any Bubbins, who has looked after Darwin since 1980, said: “He loves everyone – apart from the vet. One of the first thing I remember about him is when the vet came to see him to give him an injection and although tortoises aren’t known for their speed, he quickly shuffled out the door.”