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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Harriet the Tortoise dies at 175
Harriet the Galapagos tortoise - 15/11/05

Harriet the tortoise, one of the world's oldest known living creatures, has died in Australia aged about 175.

Senior vet Dr John Hangar told Australia's ABC that Harriet, a Giant Galapagos tortoise, had died of heart failure after a short illness.

"She had a very fairly acute heart attack and thankfully passed away quietly overnight," Dr Hangar said.

Last year staff at Australia Zoo, where Harriet had lived for 17 years, held a party to celebrate her 175th birthday.

Some people believe that Harriet was studied by British naturalist Charles Darwin.

Darwin took several young Giant Galapagos tortoises back to London after his epic voyage on board HMS Beagle.

DNA testing has suggested the giant creature was born around 1830, a few years before Darwin visited the Galapagos archipelago in 1835.

However, Harriet belonged to a sub-species of tortoise only found on an island that Darwin never visited.

At the time of her 175th birthday party, Harriet weighed 150kg (23 stone) and was roughly the size of a dinner table.

She was the star attraction at the Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Her keepers put her longevity down to a stress-free life.

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