A century-long marriage love story has come to an end, as Bibi apparently can’t stand Poldi anymore. After 115 years together, the two tortoises separated.
Bibi and Poldi were both born around 1897. They met not long after that, fell in love, spending a lot of time together. They shared a living space at Switzerland’s Basel Zoo for half a century, and have spent the last four decades cohabiting at Happ Reptile Zoo in Klagenfurt, Austria. But things recently turned south.
Zoo carers noticed that Bibi (the female) seemed annoyed by Poldi’s attention. Carers hoped the situation would improve, but it only got worse, culminating in a direct attack from Bibi, who bit off a bit of Poldi’s shell. Tortoises don’t have teeth, but they do have strong jaws which can cause significant damage.
The downfall started a few years ago.
“[T]hey have been together since they were young and grew up together, eventually becoming a pair,” zoo chief Helga Happ said in 2012. “But for no reason that anyone can discover, they seem to have fallen out. They just can’t stand each other.”
Fast forward to 2019 — the zoo has tried counseling, “romantic food”, anything they could think of — nothing worked. Even the sight of Poldi would make Bibi hiss.
“We get the feeling they can’t stand the sight of each other anymore,” Happ said.
So, the zoo staff was finally forced to give up. They built two houses with two baths and the two tortoises are officially separated. The tortoises which have been together longer than anyone can remember, are divorced.
Still, given the extreme longevity of the species, there is still hope that they might get over their differences and re-discover harmony. For now, though Bibi appears to be enjoying her new life as a single gal. As for Poldi, it’s not exactly clear what his feelings are.
Tortoises are not monogamous in a sexual sense, but biologists believe it’s uncommon for two animals who have been together for such a long time to split up, especially in captivity.
Alexandra is a naturalist who is firmly in love with our planet and the environment. When she's not writing about climate or animal rights, you can usually find her doing field research or reading the latest nutritional studies.