This is what happens when you pester a giant tortoise in the midst of mating.
As vice president of the Royal Geographical Society and one of the world’s most experienced science divers and polar travelers, explorer Paul Rose knows a thing or two about nature … and the birds and bees. But he may not be the most discreet when it comes to Aldabra giant tortoises (one of which is pictured above, but is not the hero of our story).
During a National Geographic expedition to an island in the Seychelles once ravaged by the guano industry, he was drawn towards a “powerful rhythmic grunting” coming from dense bushes, he writes, and was “delighted to find that it was two giant tortoises mating – a beautiful thing to witness.” He sat in the grass to watch the magic that is giant tortoises doing it (nothing wrong with a little testudinal voyeurism) but the male tortoise, understandably, didn’t take very well to the peeping Tom.
And thus, a chase breaks out. But the tortoise – he’s giant. And weighing in at more than 600 pounds doesn’t present the most pressing threat to Rose. Yet bless his giant tortoise heart, he doesn’t give up.
“There was absolutely no stopping him,” writes Rose. “He got close, very close, close enough that his snorting and spitting plus the look in his enraged eyes above his snapping powerful beak made us retreat in a panic.”
While Rose's takeaway is that the “presence and vitality of these tortoises serves as a reminder that, given a chance, even in a once devastated ecosystem, nature will rebuild.” We’re left with another lesson. Slow and steady really can win the race. That, and never ever come between an amorous tortoise and his gal.