Torty the tortoise

Students learn about the only living survivor of the First World War in New Zealand: a 200-year-old tortoise called Torty. 

Torty the tortoise. Photograph by Kathy Webb (Dominion Post), 2009.

Torty the tortoise. Photograph by Kathy Webb (Dominion Post), 2009.

Context 

Torty, a female Greek tortoise, is the only living survivor of the First World War in New Zealand. Stewart Little, a stretcher-bearer who served at Gallipoli, rescued Torty after she was run over by a French gun carriage. Torty lost a few toes in the incident and still has a dent in her shell. At the time, Little asked some locals in Salonika how old Torty was. They estimated that she was around 100 years old, which means that she’s now about 200 years old. 

Watch the TV3 clip about Torty the tortoise, available here: http://bit.ly/TV3-Torty 

Key questions 

  • What can we observe? 
  • What do we already know? 
  • How might people have viewed this tortoise differently? 

Possible discussion questions 

  • Have you ever seen a tortoise? What do you know about them? 
  • What connections might there be between this tortoise and the First World War? 
  • Do you think Torty was a lucky tortoise? Why or why not? 
  • Why do you think Stewart Little brought Torty back to New Zealand? 
  • Why do people have pets? 
  • Do you think other soldiers had pets in the war? Why or why not? 
  • If Torty could talk, what would you ask her?
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