200-Year-Old Tortoise Killed Crossing a California Roadway

Written by Stephen Messenger

Not long after Lewis and Clark first carved out a path through the uncharted West that multitudes would later retrace, a tiny desert tortoise emerged from its egg somewhere in the still wild lands of California. Over the centuries that followed, the region’s population grew and grew, and through it all so did that tortoise.

But this weekend, the tortoise, originally estimated to be 200-years-old (though its age is uncertain), had what was quite likely its first, and sadly its last encounter with these relatively new arrivals on the landscape.

According to California Highway Patrol, dozens of drivers called to report sightings of a “humongous” animal crossing Interstate 10 near the city of Whitewater on Sunday. By the time authorities arrived, however, the aged tortoise had been struck by an automobile — one of many modern inventions it predates by decades.

In an interview with The Desert Sun, herpetologist Robert Lovich says that, while it’s not possible to determine the tortoise’s exact age or history, it was “exponentially older than it probably should be.” Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the old tortoise was one of nature’s most epic survivors — and that a natural end would have been a much more befitting one.

It is estimated that 1 million animals are struck and killed by cars each day on roadways across America.

This post was originally published in TreeHugger

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Environmental Command

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 months ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brownabout a year ago

very sad news but thanks for sharing

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe1 years ago

Poor ole guy! Rest in peace!

Kate S.
Kate S.2 years ago


Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright2 years ago

This is extremely sad and I have been putting off reading this article. This should not have happened.......Just like Nisha, I have been wondering how anyone could have done this? This was a slow moving large creature. I wish someone could have stopped and somehow have saved him.

Yes Debby R.......millions of animals are killed each and every day on our highways and roadways and that's just in the US alone. Scary isn't it what we are doing to the animals?

Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan2 years ago

It should not have happened!

jan macek
jan macek2 years ago

What was even more upsetting was not one person tried to save it. How hard would it have been to stop their car help the turtle across by stopping traffic. Ever think about that?

John Wesen
Past Member 2 years ago

Such a great loss. To have outlived so much, only to die by an invention of man.

Mary L.
Mary L.2 years ago

I have no words to express my sorrow.

Loretta P.
Loretta P.2 years ago

So very sad Even more so if the driver did not make an effort to avoid it.