9/19/2014

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With a few more bananas, Ozzie will outlive us all

With a few more bananas, Ozzie will outlive us all

EUGENE, Ore. - Sean Barrett totes a load of bananas to the cage of his special guest.

"He says he wants the bananas," the veterinarian at Santa Clara Animal Hospital says.

Bananas - and a massage.

"He likes his neck rubbed," a hospital employee says. "Hi baby."

The pampered pet: a 600-pound Aldabra Giant Tortoise named Ozzie, believed to be at least 150 years old. >>> See Images of Ozzie the Giant Tortoise

He arrived at the animal hospital last Friday with a bad cold.

"He really is very curious, very inquisitive, and he really responds to people, especially children," Barrett said. "He responded quite quickly to the antibiotics and then started to eat again."

When Ozzie arrived at the hospital, he had not eaten for 10 days. He has been making up for a little lost time by chowing on bananas and dry grass.

Barrett said Ozzie has to be the oldest tortoise in Oregon.

How old? That's another question.

A century and a half - 150 years, or about the age of the State of Oregon - is their best guess. It's going to take carbon dating on his shell to get a better fix on his age.

How old will he get? The oldest of his kind ever recorded lived to be 255 years old.
 
"You really don't know how old he could potentially get to," Barrett said.

What Ozzie might he be thinking and where has he been in 150 years, we'll never know. But Dr. Barrett says he's glad their paths have crossed before Ozzie's Oregon owners send him to Texas to live in a more tortoise-worthy climate.

"It humbles you," Barrett said of the giant tortoise, which likely hatched around the time of the American Civil War. "It blows you away."

With a few more bananas, Ozzie will outlive us all.

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