November 14, 2005

Harriet the tortoise still going strong at 175

CANBERRA (Reuters) - One of the world's oldest living
animals, Harriet the tortoise, celebrated her 175th birthday on
Tuesday -- with a pink hibiscus flower cake at her retirement
home in northern Australia.

Australia Zoo, where Harriet has spent the past 17 years,
says the Giant Galapagos Land Tortoise was collected by British
scientist Charles Darwin in 1835, although some historians have
disputed this.

There is no doubt however over the age of Harriet -- who
for more than a century was thought to be a male and named
Harry -- and she is recognized by Guinness World Records as the
world's oldest living chelonian, or reptile with a shell of
bony plates.

"She would definitely be the oldest living animal on Earth
... I can't see why she shouldn't live till 200," Australian
conservationist and television celebrity Steve Irwin, who owns
Australia Zoo north of the city of Brisbane, told Guinness
World Records.