Divorce in the Animal World

Aug 8, 2012 by

It appears that giant turtles are very much like humans when it comes to their long-term love relationships. And like many unhappily married humans who grow apart and eventually divorce their partners, two giant turtles at an Austrian zoo have called a halt to their 115-year long relationship, and now refuse to have anything to do with each other. Despite their keeper’s best attempts at “turtle counseling” in order to help the aging couple reignite their marriage, the turtles have behaved just like warring human spouses and the husband has been forced to move out of the house.

Studies have shown that many different types of couples in the animal world aren’t all that different from human couples and will “divorce” their partners when the romance begins to fade. Researchers have long observed pairs of monkeys and birds who both mated successfully with one partner and then “divorced” them and moved on to another partner in their later years. In the case of the Austrian turtles, the zookeepers are calling it the end of the “world’s longest animal marriage.”

The pair, named Bibi and Poldi, are both 115 years old, and having been born in captivity the pair grew up together and eventually became an apparently happy turtle couple, and shared their living space at the Austrian zoo for 36 years, having moved there together from the Basel zoo in Switzerland. A spokesperson for the zoo told The Austrian Times that the officials were not clear why the turtles have fallen out of love, and that Bibi, the female, initiated the break-up when she started attacking her partner, biting off part of his shell. Zoo official Helga Happ was quoted in The Austrian Times saying “We get the feeling they can’t stand the sight of each other anymore.

Although Happ told the Austrian paper that it was ‘very rare’ for animals who have been a pair for so long to grow apart, but the female turtle continued to attack her partner until the male was moved “out of the house” to a different location. Like sparring human spouses, keeping the animals apart is critical as the 200+ lb. creatures could seriously injure or kill each other with their horn rimmed mouths and powerful jaws if they were so inclined. Acting as marriage counselors for the turtles, the zoo officials called upon outside animal experts to try and help reunite the couple through therapies including feeding the turtles aphrodisiac foods and trying to put some intimacy back into their relationship by getting them to play games together. However, the counseling and therapy failed to work any magic and just like a bitter human couple in a relationship gone bad, the turtles seem to want nothing to do with each other following their recent and apparently very final, divorce.

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