Two-Headed Tortoise Celebrates 25th Birthday In Switzerland

Turning 25 is a major milestone. It’s a quarter the way to 100, halfway to 50. But when you’re a two-headed tortoise with a low chance of survival, turning 25 is an even bigger milestone.

Janus is a Greek tortoise that was hatched at the Geneva Natural History Museum back in 1997.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to the Daily Mail, Janus has been making headlines since the day he was born due to her unusual condition: He has two heads.

For starters, it’s unusual for an animal to be born with two heads. It’s unknown how prevalent the anomaly is, but researchers know it’s extremely rare (with most cases occurring in snakes).

Animals that are born with multiple heads generally don’t survive long. If complications from their condition don’t kill them young, then nature and predators will.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

But Janus defied the odds and continued to surprise people year after year since the day he was born.

Reuters reports that Janus wasn’t just born with two heads, he was also born with two hearts, two lungs, and two personalities. In the wild, he wouldn’t have survived long at all. His two heads fight with each other for food and don’t always get along, and his body doesn’t retract into his shell for protection, leaving him vulnerable to the elements, predators, and starvation.

However, Janus wasn’t released into the wild. He found a home at the museum in Switzerland with an amazing team of caregivers, including his main caregiver, Angelica Bourgoin.

According to Local 12, Bourgoin credited Janus’ survival to the level of care and love he receives. She said, “I think it’s because of the attention we give him and our devotion that he’s still here today.”

The outlet reported that the tortoise is treated to organic salads, daily massages, tea baths, and regular walks.

Bourgoin believes Janus to be the oldest bicephalic tortoise in the world. While every birthday is a reason to celebrate, Janus’ is that much more special!

On September 3rd, the museum announced Janus’ birthday on social media as she turned 25 years old!

On Instagram, the museum explained that they were hosting a full-day event to celebrate Janus’ birthday!

The celebration included a selfie station where guests could take pictures with Janus and a photo board, a surprise of some kind, a sign with scientific information about Janus’ condition, and a meet-and-gree with Janus’ caregivers!

Beyond that, the museum was also allowing people to give Janus a gift for her birthday (possibly some fruit treats?), and hosted a painting workshop to celebrate.

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