The Smithsonian's National Zoo is mourning the loss of Sable, one of its elderly Aldabra tortoises, who died Oct. 7, and a female wrinkled hornbill, who died at the Bird House Oct. 18. Veterinarians had been treating the female tortoise, Sable, for renal failure and an upper respiratory infection. Full necropsy results will be available for both animals within four to six weeks.
Sable arrived at the Zoo in 1956 along with a male Aldabra tortoise named Alex, who still resides at the Zoo. Both were adults and at least 30 years old when they arrived. Aldabra tortoises have extraordinary long lifespans, and can live for more than 100 years. Keepers estimate that Sable was at least 87 years old and possibly could have been closer to 100 years old, making her and Alex the oldest animals at the National Zoo. Sable never produced offspring, but she served as an ambassador of her species at the Reptile Discovery Center. The Aldabra tortoises are popular residents at the Reptile Discovery Center. Zoo visitors can meet and feed the Zoo's remaining three Aldabra tortoises during special behind-the-scenes tours at the Reptile Discovery Center.