Giant Turtles Fall Out of Love After 115 Years

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Aldabra tortoises are housed inside the new wing of the Bioparco, dedicated to giant turtles, on January 24, 2012 in Rome, Italy. The Aldabra tortoise is the largest turtle in the world after the Galapagos turtle and lives on the island of Aldabra in the Seychelles archipelago. It can weigh up to 250 pounds, grow to over a meter in length and live to more than a hundred years. This species is highly endangered with only a a small number left in the world.
Photo: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty

Human beings love to look at love in the animal world to point out certain things about our own couplings that might be biological truths and not just social constructs. For instance, how many times have you heard that penguins mate for life, or that there are gay penguins? Well, today, we look to the animal world for a less happy story about monogamy. Bibi and Pologa, two 115-year-old giant turtles in an Austrian zoo who have been mates since their youth, have broken up. Suddenly, "they just can't stand each other," said Helga Happ, the head of the Klagenfurt zoo.

Zoo staff realised the pair had fallen out after Bibi attacked her partner — biting off a chunk of his shell — and then carrying out several further attacks until he was moved to another enclosure. ... Zoo staff have told the experts that nothing has changed in the pair's routine — but Bibi in particular wanted to have the cage to herself and be a single.

Had she read Fear of Flying recently? Fifty Shades of Grey? Talking about how elegant the neck wrinkles on the 65-year-old turtle in the next cage were? Had he been leaving his tortoise shell up after going to the bathroom, and after decades she'd just finally had enough? Anyway, who cares about the specifics: If these kids can't make it, what chance do the rest of us fools have?