How old is it? - Always looking for old photos.
Is it still alive? Always looking for current photos.
This one sent by Alan McFarland, maybe from the 1940's
"The famous school tortoise. The rider is unknown to me."
This from Anoop Nathwani in 2004
This from Rodney Holland in 2005.
"Obligatory picture of tortoise!"
In August 1994
Didn't there used to be two Tortoise?
The Tortoises were first brought to the Arusha school by my father who was the first headmaster - William Wynn Jones. For some reason he gave one away - and to this day I do not know why!!
In 2007 my siblings and I made a return to Africa and found (oh joy!!) the tortoise which had been ridden by my son Ben some eight years previously - and my neice Catherins some 10 years previously. We now have wonderful photos of us four Wynn Jones kids having our ride!! Will send them when I can find out how to insert them!.
So if they were brought by your father, that would be in the 1930's. Any idea of how old they were then, or where they came from. My guess is that they are Aldabra Tortoises (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldabra_Giant_Tortoise) from the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, or maybe from Zanzibar, where there is said to be a small population.
[btw, to add pictures, click on "Additional Options" when you are making a post]
The tortoise was there '64 to '67 when I was at Arusha - we used to polish our shoes on the back of the shell for which I got the usual stinging smacks on the calf from Miss Parry. Ouch!!
Trust these arrive safely David
John Wynn Jones
Susan Wynn Jones
Naomi Wynn Jones
From a comment by my mother Ruth Wynn Jones, the tortoises were (there were two in the beginning) about 80 years old when they arrived (circa 1937). Naomi Wilson (nee Wynn Jones)
VALE the tortoise.
It had to happen some day. I was advised a couple of days ago that the tortoise has died. How or when I do not know but will try to find out.
An end to a chapter in the Arusha School - SO many past students and othere with an interest in the school have visited and taken photos of the tortoise.
There were two tortoises taken to the School by my father who was the foundation Headmaster but I only knew one tortoise. What happened to the other on I do not know.
I can confirm that as at 30 January 2013 the Tortoise is still alive. This was confirmed by a teacher at the school. Regards Des Bailey
I have just had news that the tortooise is STILL alive! An email from Des Bailey tells me that
"I can confirm that as at 30/1/2013 the Tortoise is still alive. This was confirmed by Kathy Barnes who emailed one of the teachers at the school..
I am Des Bailey. Was at Arusha School from 61 - 65. I remember being at the opening of the library by your dad, but I think this was prior to me being at school. All my siblings attended the school: Shirley, Laurie, Richard, myself and Maureen."
So there we are - a part of the School History still alilve and munching.
Thank you Des for the information.
Love to share my brother's remark on hearaing of the tortoises "resurrection" as it were.
"What glad tidings of great joy: that which was dead is alive again. We should name him/her "Lazarus"!
I wonder if we can be informed if in the next ten years S/h passes on?
Tanzania: 'Sir Alex', Country's Ancient Reptile That Still Lives in Arusha
By Marc Nkwame
Arusha -- Nobody knows for sure how old 'Sir Alex' could be at the moment, but experts estimate that it could be hitting the 200 years (two centuries) mark now, making him the oldest creature in Tanzania and the 'most ancient' around the East African plateau.
The second mystery of 'Sir Alex' is that despite the male title, no one can tell whether the animal, which happens to be a tortoise, is male or female, but as it happens, pupils at the Arusha Primary School (Arusha School) in which the large reptile resides, prefer to call him or her, Babu (grandpa).
'Sir Alex' apparently is not a native Tanzanian tortoise, because it was reportedly shipped here from Australia in the early 1920s. History has it that three tortoises arrived in the country nearly 100 years ago. One was left in Dar es Salaam and believed to be either dead or simply disappeared.
The other two tortoises were dispatched up North. Along the way one was reportedly left at Moshi and got deposited at a wildlife institution there, but even this one remains a mystery whether it is still alive or died in Kilimanjaro. Now the third tortoise which was eventually given to Arusha School is the subject of this narrative. The reptile has remained at the institution for the last 90 years or so.
This is the 'Sir Alex' we are talking about. "The eye, the spirit and crown of Arusha School," said the Headmistress, Mwalimu Angela Kitigwa. What she meant was that the school was built around the tortoise and when the institution eventually opened for first pupils' intake in 1932, 'Sir Alex' was already a vegetarian veteran there.
Originally, Arusha School was established in Arusha in 1934 as a private co-educational school for European children, but in 1972 it was taken over by the government, becoming the first English-Medium Primary school educating students from Kindergarten to Primary 7.
Located along Fire Road, adjacent to another legendary city's landmark, The Arusha Hotel, the English-Medium institution currently functions both as a boarding and day school.
Many efforts to steal, abduct or relocate the famous tortoise have been botched but not without some effects; for instance, the reptile now features a slightly fractured upper shell, believed to be the act of a stray bullet.
"There have been various attempts to abduct our tortoise with the latest episode being the one which a Toyota Land-Cruiser SUV drove into the compound and a gang of men stormed out, carried the animal into the vehicle but the situation was saved by children who thronged the car screaming," said Mwalimu Pelle Ibrahim Shaibu, a retired teacher who taught at the school between 1981 and 2007.
The alarm raised by the children caused the mysterious men to flee, dropped the tortoise, jumped back onto their vehicle and sped off.
It seems there are some hidden reasons why some parties are craving to get hold of the ancient reptile. "This tortoise which throughout its life has never been named, until recently when the 'Sir Alex,' title came up, is very popular worldwide because more than 20,000 former pupils and staff who attended our school fondly remember the animal and constantly ask about it," said the school headmistress.
Large as it is and menacing as it looks, the giant tortoise, however, is a favourite among the school pupils, many of whom enjoy taking a slow ride on its back around the school compound, mapped within 48 acres, dotted with shrubs trees and bushes.
David Read now aged 95 is a famous British author behind popular book titles such as 'Barefoot Over Serengeti' and 'Another load of Bull,' once rode on the back of the tortoise when he was a pupil at Arusha School in 1936.
The legendary tortoise caused global uproar once when news started circulating, claiming that wildlife officials had gone to the school and confiscated the country's oldest reptile.
"But the residents of Arusha, pupils, parents and alumni of the school should not worry because the tortoise has been restored back to the school," revealed the headmistress who also admitted that, indeed the incident was an issue of great concern among members of the school as well as its global community.
One of the old students sent an email with concern regarding the tortoise; saying "I have read one of the items on face book regarding the tortoise that was at the school, taken away because there was no permit for the school to own it."
"I was born in Arusha in 1949 and my father was a master at the school and indeed I grew up in the school grounds, where the tortoise became part of the school life.
On my visit back to the school four years ago I was very pleased to see it is still there." And many are indeed pleased to learn that Sir Alex is still fine and doing well though many of the mysteries surrounding this Tanzania's oldest organism may not be solved in the near future.
Our father, Rev'd.William Wynn Jones, inaugural Headmadter of the school brought the two tortoises to the school initially and they were our pets. From where he procured them we do not know.
Sir Alex's mate - my brother Tim informs me, dad gave away, purely and simply because the two tortoises munching were ruining the gardens! To whom the second tortoise was given we do not know. Naomi Wilson (née Wynn Jones)
Youngest of the WJ children