A woman was arrested this morning on the Atlantic island of Saint Helena for accidentally causing the death of the oldest known animal in the world, a 185-year old tortoise named Jonathan.
The famous Seychelles giant tortoise lived on the grounds of Plantation House, the official residence of the island’s Governor, and belonged to the government of Saint Helena since 1882.
According to the Saint Helena Police Service, 47-year old Margaret Sanders was visiting Plantation House with her family when her legs began to hurt and she needed to rest.
The 520-lbs woman began looking for a place to sit down, and unfortunately confused the venerable animal with a decorative bench and decided to sit on it.
Ms. Sanders’ weight was too important for the tortoise’s carapace and it immediately began cracking up, crushing the animal underneath.
The site’s veterinarian, Dr. Frank Hollins, arrived less than a minute later, but Jonathan had already died of suffocation.
Dr. Hollins was visibly emotional when he described the scene in an interview with the BBC, only hours after the incident.
“When I saw that fat Lady on Jonathan, I started cursing and swearing at her, I couldn’t help myself. She just stared at me with a blank stare. It took minutes before she realized that her ‘bench’ was bleeding.”
The veterinarian describes Jonathan’s death as a great loss for Saint Helena and the entire world.
“Animals who live that old are extremely rare. It’s a catastrophe to have a nearly 200-year old animal die because of human stupidity.”
Jonathan was famous around the world as the oldest known land animal and had already appeared in several media over his very long life.
The elderly tortoise was both a member of an endangered species, a major tourist attraction and a government property, so Margaret Sanders was immediately arrested and detained by the island’s police.
She could face a variety of criminal charges, including the reckless destruction of government property, animal cruelty and even poaching.
The Saint Helena Police Service has confirmed that multiple accusations should be filed over the next few days, once investigators have met with all witnesses of the incident.