Possibly the most famous radiated tortoise in the world was a female animal named Tu’i Malila (King Malila), a pet kept by the royal family of Tonga.  Legend says that Tu’i Malila was given to the royal family by captain James Cook in 1777.  Another story of her origin is that George Tupou I purchased her off a ship in the early 19th century.  Whatever the truth, Tu’i Malila was a treasured pet and national symbol, and her guests included the British royal family.  She died in 1965 of natural causes, with her age estimated at 188 years old, making her the longest-lived tortoise whose age has been verified.  Her preserved body (last image) is kept at the Royal Palace of Tonga.

A royal shell through and through.

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