KOLKATA, India - A giant aldabra tortoise thought to be around 250 years old has died in the Kolkata zoo of liver failure, Indian authorities said on Thursday.
The tortoise had been the pet of Robert Clive, the famous British military officer in colonial India around the middle of the 18th century, a local minister in West Bengal state said.
Local authorities say the tortoise, named Addwaitya meaning the The One and Only in Bengali, was the oldest tortoise in the world but they have not presented scientific proof to back up their claim.
Historical records show 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, West Bengal Forest Minister Jogesh Barman said.
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 that he is more than 250 years old, he said.
The minister said details about Addwaityas early life showed that British sailors had brought him from the Seychelles islands and presented him to Clive, who was rising fast in the East India Companys military hierarchy.
On Thursday, the tortoises enclosure wore a deserted look.
This is a sad day for us. We will miss him very much, a zoo keeper said.
Wild Aldabra tortoises are found in the Aldabra island in the Indian Ocean Seychelles islands. They average about 265 pounds (120 kg). It is believed that tortoises are the longest lived of all animals, with life spans often surpassing 100 years.