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Giant tortoise in France dies at 146

Paris — One of the oldest giant tortoises in Europe has died at its home in Paris at the age of 146, its carers said on Friday.

Kiki, a male tortoise, was brought to France fully grown from Mauritius in 1923, Michel Saint-Jalme, director of the wildlife centre in Paris’s Jardin des Plantes where the animal lived, told AFP.

Kiki stayed in Paris throughout the German occupation in the World War II 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, Saint-Jalme said.

"He was eating normally," Saint-Jalme said. "But he had been showing signs that he was not well for several days."

Kiki weighed 250 kilograms (550 pounds) and had to be moved around using a forklift machine. He left behind him four other younger and smaller giant tortoises in the wildlife centre.

Saint-Jalme said he believed Kiki to be 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.

"We are all rather moved by his death, because he was one of the stars of the gardens," Saint-Jalme said.