A 130-year-old Aldabra giant tortoise – the oldest resident at Vienna Zoo – has died after almost seven decades in the Austrian capital.
The giant tortoise named Schurli, endemic to the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, died at the age of 130 on 11th July.
Schurli, who according to zoo authorities was a huge piece of the Tiergarten Schonbrunn Zoo’s history, was the oldest resident at the zoo where he spent 68 years of his life.
The Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) is one of the largest tortoises in the world and is listed ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
Zoologist Anton Weissenbacher told Newsflash: “Schurli had lived with us since 1953. Many zoo visitors knew him for almost forever. His exact age was not known, but it was at least 130 years.”
Weissenbacher explained that Schurli was taken care of by generations of animal keepers who built a special relationship with the giant reptile.
Zookeeper Maximilian Schon remembered: “Schurli had a strong personality and was adorable and stubborn. He enjoyed being petted on the neck.”
Schon explained that Schurli could mostly be found soaking in cold water or lying under the lawn sprinkler during the summer.
The zookeeper said: “When it came to food, he preferred juicy cucumbers and dry leaves. They were like chips to him – only healthier.”
However, due to his age, Schurli’s health worsened in recent years and he was under close observation by the zoo’s vets.
The “old guy”, as zookeepers called him, lived in the terrarium enclosure along with a male tortoise named Menschik and a female called Madi.
During his 130-year-long life, Schurli gained some oracle experience during the 2016 UEFA European Championship, after which he was taken under the protection of then-Vienna mayor Michael Haupl who became his sponsor the same year.
Schurli was also an advertising model and also took part in a 2019 study focusing on the intelligence of Aldabra giant tortoises.
After Schurli’s death, Menschik has now taken over the role of the Tiergarten Schonbrunn Zoo’s oldest resident.
According to the zoo, Menschik arrived shortly after Schurli and is considered to be slightly younger.