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Sunday, March 27, 2022

the chocking traffic - rides ........... and the tortoise ride

                     Geochelone gigantea, the Aldabra giant tortoise, is one of the largest tortoises in the world. The Aldabra giant tortoise lives on the remote Aldabra atoll, one of the Seychelles group of islands in the Indian Ocean.  Aldabra is the world's second largest coral atoll,  situated in the Aldabra Group of islands in the Indian Ocean that are part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles.

In the metropolis of Chennai, as also in many other cities, people long time travelling to their place of work – all roads are choked as there are so many vehicles. In foreign countries, there are luxury yachts – for some a ride in luxury car thrills – for some, the thrill is in riding fast a motorcycle zipping past others in the lane.  My favourite writer Sujatha wrote about everything –  rides on  cars and aero planes (don’t remember reading anything about ship though !).  He once wrote in Kumudam about his friend  possessing a Honda comet and how he sped past 160 kmph in few seconds – as usual it was great inspiring making one dream of even seeing the vehicle once.  Even the  rise in petrol and diesel prices failed to deter the State’s hunger for motor vehicles, with the two-wheeler population rising nine-fold during the last two decades.  According to some reports, the private vehicle population is always on the rise and by some estimates there are close 1.50 crore two wheelers in the State and a very high % of them are on the streets of Singara Chennai.

Recently i had posted on the fable ‘doneky-ride’ by the father, then son, then together – the criticism of the bystanders – and eventually, they walking donkey with none astride ...... and that post was about a man China riding a pig !  - yes,  the  animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig and its ancestor, the common Eurasian wild boar.  Children play ‘piggyback’.  Piggyback transportation is transportation of goods where one transportation unit is carried on the back of something else.  That 68 year old pig farmer from Chongqing in China has raised pigs for 30 years and reportedly had been seen on the streets of China, sitting on the pig and steering it to various places.

Animal rides are nothing new – people have travelled on bullocks, horses, mules and elephants.  When Thiruvallikkeni Sri Parthasarathi temple had ‘Azhwar’ elephant,  we all felt so happy in getting on it and having a small ride on the streets !

This one is different –    the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea), from Seychelles, is one of the largest tortoises in the world.  It has stocky, heavily scaled legs to support its heavy body. The neck of the Aldabra giant tortoise is very long, even for its great size, which helps the animal to exploit tree branches up to a meter from the ground as a food source.  Though they are called giant tortoises due to their relatively big frame, they are not meant to be used as these ...... MailOnline reports that a  Chinese zookeeper was  sacked for letting tourists ride giant tortoises and poking them with  screwdriver so that they would move !

Miles away, this  picture of a man riding a tortoise at a zoo caused outrage among animal rights campaigners.  Photographs purporting to show a tortoise being prodded with screwdriver into giving a child a ride on its shell have caused outrage among Chinese animals rights campaigners.  A series of images posted on Tuesday on Chinese social media site Weibo showed the animal being ridden by a tourist, with the poster claiming the tortoise was crying and prodded with the screwdriver to make it move.  The pictures were reported to be taken at Haicang Wild Animal Park in Xiamen city in south east China.

The tortoise is reported to be a diplomatic gift sent by Mauritius.  The zookeeper has now been sacked and authorities are investigating, the People's Daily Online reported.   The images attracted huge amounts of comments, and by 7.40pm on the day of posting, they had been reposted more than 1,200 times by outraged viewers.  Director Jiang, of Haicang Wild Animal Park, told reporters that as soon as the zoo was notified of the photos on Weibo, staff immediately set out to verify the issue.  They confirmed the woman in the photo was a zookeeper and said she was holding a tool used for cage maintenance. The zookeeper has denied the accusations.

A spokesman from the zoo confirmed to local media that the two Aldabra giant tortoises they are looking after were diplomatic gifts given by Mauritius authorities to China.  The zoo allowed visitors to take pictures with them, but did not allow them to be ridden.  The spokesman said: 'It costs tourists 30 yuan (£3.6) to take a picture with the tortoises and the zookeeper can earn 9-10 yuan (£1) as commission from each picture.  He added that the zookeeper seen in the images couldn't 'resist the lure of money,' suggesting that she let tourists to ride the tortoises in order to get them take more pictures.

Strange are the ways of people !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th May 2015. 

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