A sad day for South Dakota: Methusaleh the tortoise is dead
Methusaleh, a 130-year-old tortoise, died recently at Reptile Gardens in South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of Reptile Gardens)
All across America and beyond, scrapbooks and photo albums contain vacation pictures of children sitting atop a giant tortoise at Reptile Gardens, in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
The tortoise in those pictures is Methusaleh, who died Sunday night at 130 years of age. He was said to be South Dakota’s oldest “resident.”
Methusaleh was born in 1881 in the Galapagos Islands and made his home at Reptile Gardens for the past 56 years. He weighed 600 pounds. Each year, he celebrated his birthday by eating his favorite food, watermelon.
As the mainstay attraction at one of the Black Hills’ most popular sites, he was probably not only South Dakota’s oldest resident but also its most photographed. In some families, there are multiple photos of kids with Methusaleh spanning several generations.
According to a news story I read today, Reptile Gardens estimates that tens of thousands of people met and petted Methusaleh through the years. A permanent memorial for Methusaleh is planned.