EXPIRED: 11/30/09 – Kiki, 146, was 550 pounds and had to be moved around using a fork-lift machine. He was also a prolific and noisy lover, making him a favorite of the French public.
The year Kiki was born, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The American Civil War was raging.
The beloved giant tortoise lived at the Paris’ Ménagerie du Jardins des Plantes, where he arrived in 1923, fully grown, from Mauritius. Kiki stayed in Paris throughout the German occupation in the World War ll right up to his death on Monday from an infection due to lesions in his gut — something not unusual for a tortoise of his age.
He left behind him four other younger and smaller giant tortoises in the wildlife centre.
Many believe Kiki was one of the biggest tortoises in Europe — among some 375 of the endangered species of giant tortoises in captivity and 150,000 in the wild.
I was in the Galapagos this past autumn and saw these wild creatures close up. It’s a real shame what humans did to eliminate their kind, but there are efforts to bring them back.