Tu'i Malila

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A photo of the tortoise's preserved body, 2003.

Tu'i Malila (1777 - 19 May 1965) was a tortoise allegedly given to the royal family of Tonga by Captain James Cook. It was a radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) from Madagascar and is the longest-lived tortoise whose age has been verified.

The name means King Malila in the Tongan language. According to www.captcook-ne.co.uk, Tu'i Malila was hatched around 1777 and then given by Captain Cook to the Tongan royal family upon his visit to Tonga in July 1777.[1] According to other sources, George Tupou I obtained it from a vessel which called in Haapai in the first half of the 19th century.[2]

Tu'i Malila remained in their care until death on 19 May 1965 due to natural causes. The tortoise was estimated to be 188 years old at this time.[3] During Queen Elizabeth II's Royal Tour of Tonga in 1953, Tu'i Malila was one of the first animals shown to the monarch on her official visit to the island nation.

In the Tongan National Center on the island of Tongatapu, there is a preserved radiated tortoise labeled Tu'i Malila. Little other information is given in English, but the Center staff attest to the fact that this is indeed the body of the famous tortoise.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Captain Cook Timeline - Third Voyage 1776 - 1780". Captain Cook Birthplace Museum. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  2. ^ http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/Zoology/Zoology-idx?type=turn&id=Zoology.GINYZooSoc&entity=Zoology.GINYZooSoc.p0015&isize=text
  3. ^ Tortoise Believed to Have Been Owned by Darwin Dies at 176 2nd to last paragraph mentions tu'i Malila's age

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