Ali Pasha, the Tortoise, Dead at 100 or So
LONDON (AP) _ British newspapers on Thursday reported the death of Ali Pasha, a tortoise that survived the Gallipoli campaign in World War I. His reputed age was about 100.
Ali Pasha, a Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise, succumbed to a cold after a particularly nasty English summer and died peacefully over the weekend at his home near Lowestoft, Suffolk.
He had lived with the Friston family for 72 years, ever since he was found in Turkey during World War I.
Seaman Henry Friston encountered the 10-inch tortoise when he went ashore at Gallipoli with a British invasion force from HMS Implacable on April 26, 1915, according to The Times of London and The Daily Telegraph.
While under continuous fire, Friston protected the tortoise for 10 days, then took it back to the Implacable, where it became the ship’s mascot.
Allied forces launched the Gallipoli campaign against Turkey in an attempt to capture Constantinople and establish a route to Russia through the Dardanelles. The campaign was a disaster, and the Allies withdrew in January 1916.
After the war, Friston brought Ali Pasha - ″pasha″ denotes a high-ranking Turkish officer - back to England.
The tortoise passed his days eating lettuce and dandelions. His fame grew with advancing age. Local newspapers in eastern England reported his emergence from hiberation as confirmation of the arrival of spring.
When Friston died in 1977, his son Don continued to care for Ali Pasha, along with several other tortoises.
″It is very sad,″ said Friston. ″I had known him all my life and almost expected him to outlive me.″