The giant aldabra tortoise, popularly known as Adwaitya, died in Calcutta Zoo of liver failure, taking all the secrets of an existence spanning three centuries with him. He was reputedly owned by the imperial hero Clive of India.
He lived through the industrial revolution, the Napoleonic wars and the space age, but yesterday Adwaitya, the world’s oldest tortoise ended his life after 250 years, probably he was tired with a long life.
Historical records show that 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, as per Jogesh Barman, the West Bengal Forest Minister.
“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 he is more than 250 years old.”
Details about the tortoise’s early life showed that British sailors had brought him from the Seychelles and presented him to Clive, who was rising fast in the East India Company’s military hierarchy, the minister said.
If Adwaitya’s age is proved by planned carbon-dating of his shell, he will take the longest-lived crown from another tortoise with connections to empire, as per Arundhati Ray from Kolkata.
Tui Malila, who was presented to the Tongan royal family by Captain Cook, in either 1773 or 1777, remained in their care until its death from natural causes in 1965. This means Tui Malila was at least either 188 or 192 years old.