The oldest two-headed tortoise in the world celebrated their 25th birthday with a party on September 3, 2022 at the Natural History Museum in Geneva. This elder tortoise, who was named Janus after the dicephalous Roman god and serves as the museum’s mascot, enjoyed yummy treats with their keeper Angelica Bourgoin.
The mascot of the Geneva Natural History Museum turns 25 on September 3, 2022.
Bourgoin explained that Janus’ two heads are equally functional, although one personality is stronger than the other. The heads need to work together in order to move forward, as each brain controls a different side of the body. Yet they don’t always agree.
His movements are not fully coordinated, the two heads do not always agree on the direction and sometimes try to take opposite directions.
Janus was brought to the museum in 1997 as an unhatched egg. The museum staff was quite surprised when a two-headed baby tortoise emerged.
t was private individuals who brought him still in his egg, at a time when the institution had an animal facility with an incubator and qualified personnel for animal care. It was an incredible discovery to see this baby two-headed turtle come out.
Once their unique physiology was discovered, experts agreed that they would not be safe in the wild.
In the wild, turtles hide their heads and legs under their shells to protect themselves from predators. With its two heads, Janus has no room to fit into its shell, so the animal would not have survived long other than in captivity. His malformation also does not allow him to get right back if he turns over, which requires constant attention.
That being said, Janus has thrived in the care of the Museum.
But our Janus has benefited, and still benefits, from good care (optimized food, baths, massages, walks, etc.) which allow him to celebrate his quarter century, an absolute record!