4 October 2001
OLD she may be but Harriet is not about to let some sweet young thing steal her limelight without a fight.
The oldest living captive land tortoise in the world, who is residing at Australia Zoo near Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast, has not taken too kindly to her new sidekick, Coconut.
Australia Zoo Marketing Manager Gus Browning said that Harriet, a Galapagos tortoise, had had a few disagreements with Coconut, an Aldabran tortoise, sine she arrived in early June this year from the Ballarat Wildlife Park.
Perhaps it is the generation gap. Coconut is a mere 30 years old while Harriet is estimated to be about 170 years old.
Mr Browning said that although her actual age could not be proven, it was believed Harriet was collected from Isla Santiago by Charles Darwin sometime between 1835 and 1836 and taken to England.
She was thought to have arrived in Australia in 1841 and spent time in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens before moving to Fleays Fauna Sanctuary in 1952.
Australia Zoo became her home in 1987.
Harriet’s birthday is celebrated on November 15 and Mr Browning said her official duties on this day included photo calls with the British press.
Australia Zoo, on Glasshouse Mountains Road, is the home of ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin and his wife Terri.
The Zoo has recently opened a new state-of-the-art snake enclosure and a wombat enclosure, with a bird of prey enclosure, conference and restaurant centre and new front entrance expected to be completed by the end of November.