Slow and steady may win the race, but it doesn't necessarily preserve the marriage. Two giant tortoises at an Austrian zoo have learned that the hard way, reportedly cutting off their long-term relationship this month after living together for 115 years.
As the Austrian Times explains
, Bibi and Poldi were both born around 1897, met soon after and later became a couple — meaning they've been together longer than any living human
can remember. They previously shared space at Switzerland's Basel Zoo, and have spent the last 36 years cohabiting at Happ Reptile Zoo
in Klagenfurt, Austria.
But after more than a century of matrimony, things have suddenly turned ugly between the two turtles. Rather than merely drifting apart with age, they've become violent — Bibi especially, who first alerted zoo staff to the breakup by attacking Poldi, biting a chunk out of his shell. Following several more attacks, workers had to separate the former lovers, ultimately moving Poldi to a different enclosure.
"[T]hey have been together since they were young and grew up together, eventually becoming a pair," zoo chief Helga Happ tells the Times. "But for no reason that anyone can discover, they seem to have fallen out. They just can't stand each other."
Giant tortoises have some of the longest life spans
in the animal kingdom — a Galapagos tortoise named Harriet died at the age of 175 in 2006, for example, and an Aldabra tortoise named Adwaita was thought to be 250 years old when it died the same year. Both Bibi and Poldi weigh about 220 pounds, and while they don't have teeth, they do have strong, sharp jaws that could kill each other, the Times reports.
Zoo officials say nothing about the turtles' routine has changed, suggesting Bibi has simply grown tired of her partner. "We get the feeling they can't stand the sight of each other anymore," Happ says. That hasn't stopped staffers from trying to patch things up, though — they've reportedly tried couples counseling, engaging them in joint games and even feeding them "romantic good mood food," all to no avail.
"We have staff talking to and trying to engage the two in interacting," Happ tells the Times, "and we hope that they might find their harmony again."
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