The San Diego Zoo sadly had to euthanize a Galapagos tortoise known as Speed, whose estimated age is more than 150 years.
Speed had been in geriatric decline for quite some time, with arthritis and other maladies, the Los Angeles Times reported. Keepers treated him with medication, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, and even attempted acupuncture.
Finally, the San Diego zoo decided on Friday to euthanize Speed, who had been a resident at the zoo since 1933.
He was initially brought to the zoo as part of an early effort to preserve the endangered species from the Volcan Cerro Azul Island of the Galapagos Islands, off Ecuador.
For years Speed and other Galapagos tortoises made their home in the Children’s Zoo, where young kids were allowed to ride them – a practice that has since been abandoned.
In 2010, the massive herbivores – males can weigh upwards of 500 pounds – were moved to a new $1-million habitat near the reptile house.
While tortoises are not as popular as some of the other zoo residents such as pandas, elephants, cheetahs, koalas, polar bears, and monkeys, they do have their own following.
Members of the San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society are frequent visitors to the habitat, keeping up with each of the tortoises by its number (Speed was number 5) and personality. Speed, in his earlier years, was an alpha male and given to butting his leathery head with other males in dominance battles.
With Speed passing away, the zoo has 13 tortoises remaining. The group has produced more than 90 offspring sent to other zoos, many of them fathered by Speed. On the bright side, although Speed is gone, his legacy will continue across the country in other zoos for many years to come.