Usain Bolt of tortoises races to world record
The Usain Bolt of the tortoise world has raced into the record books as the fastest ever.
Bertie, from Adventure Valley in County Durham, covered 18ft (5.48m) in 19.59 seconds – smashing the previous best of 43.7 seconds, which stood since 1977.
He clocked his time in July last year, but the achievement has now been ratified and appears in the new edition of the Guinness Book of Records.
Owner Janine Calzini said he could be tempted to make another attempt on TV.
She added: « He’s just like the real-life Usain Bolt as he loves the attention his run has brought and meeting people.
« They’re amazed when they see how fast he moves.
« He lives with his girlfriend, Shelly, but she’s the opposite as she hides away. »
Bertie, who raced to his record on a diet of strawberries, is thought to be about 10 years old.
Leopard tortoises typically live to between 80 and 100 years old and Mrs Calzini, who runs the adventure park with her husband Marco, believes Bertie could be spurred on to an even faster time by the media spotlight.
« There’s nothing to say he couldn’t beat his own record. We had a lot of inquiries after Bertie’s run but had to turn them down while we waited for the record to be confirmed.
« If someone asked him to make another attempt on TV then maybe he could do it. »
Bertie was given to Adventure Valley four years ago when his owners went abroad.
Befitting his status as a record-breaker, he and Shelly now live in a larger enclosure.
The record was on a running track specified by Guinness with an incline of 1 in 12.
The previous best was set at the National Tortoise Championship at Tickhill, South Yorkshire, on 2 July 1977.