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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac/Happy Birthday, Harriet!

Air Date: Week of

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This week, we have facts about Harriet the Galapagos tortoise. She is celebrating her 170th birthday and, perhaps, reminiscing about her days with Darwin on the HMS Beagle.


CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: Unknown Artist, “Tortoise” (LIMEWIRE)]

CURWOOD: Maybe you’re worried about turning 30 or 40 or 50 or more. How about 170? That’s the milestone that Harriet, the giant Galapagos tortoise, celebrates this month. Harriet is the world’s oldest animal on record and was but four or five when none other than Charles Darwin collected her on his famous voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. She traveled much of the world before she finally settled down at the Australia Zoo near Brisbane in 1988.

Harriet isn’t telling her precise birth date but the zoo celebrates it in November because that’s when giant tortoises typically lay their eggs. Although Harriet is enjoying her golden years, her cousins back home are less fortunate. All 11 species of Galapagos tortoises face extinction due to predators that feast on tortoise eggs.

Those troubles won’t bother Harriet on her birthday. She’ll spend the day soaking in a mud bath and munching on hibiscus flowers. And if you’re around the Australia Zoo, stop by for the big birthday bash, complete with cake and dancing. But Harriet herself won’t be kicking high. The key to her longevity is keeping it slow and steady.

And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.




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