Like Madonna, Cher or Prince, he needs only one name. It’s Gus and if you haven’t heard of him, you are either new to Halifax or have been living in a bubble for the past 60 years. Gus is the gopher tortoise who is older than any of the museum staff or exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, his home for more than six decades. The popular senior citizen turns 85 on June 10, and will be honoured with a party at the museum from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. that will include GUSing games, stories and, of course, cake and turtle-shaped cookies. Ray Ashton of the Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative, Ashton Biodiversity Research and Preservation, in Florida is impressed by Gus’s longevity. “Since scientists discovered that we cannot definitively tell the age of a turtle or tortoise by the rings on their scales, one could say that Gus is the oldest documented living gopher tortoise in North America and, most likely, the world,” said Mr. Ashton, who next week will rescue 1,000 tortoises from being crushed at development in Jacksonville, Fla. Gus was purchased in a Florida reptile shop in the early 1940s by a former museum director for about $5. The director also bought an indigo snake and an alligator to display at the museum. “Although gopher tortoises are not presently CITES listed (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), export permits are required,” said museum zoologist Andrew Hebda. “This, however, was not the case in the 1940s.” John Augustus Gilhen, curator emeritus with the museum, was first introduced to Gus in 1952 at the old Science Museum on Spring Garden Road in Halifax. “I was a museum kid back then, with my head buried in field guides, when I was asked to help out with feeding the snakes and turtles,” Gilhen said. “Each day I would feel a tapping on my toe only to look down and see Gus who wanted lettuce.” Gus was adult size in 1952, meaning he likely hatched sometime between 1920 and 1925. That would make 82 to 87 years old. “Five years ago, on his 80th birthday, we decided to split this difference so Gus turns 85 this year,” said Gilhen. “Gopher tortoises are one of four tortoises that live in the warmer, dryer climates of North America,” said Ashton. “Gus came from Florida where the tortoises are soon to be listed as threatened; a critical designation for the survival of this species in the wild.” Gus is a vegetarian. His well-planned diet includes only the best of organic lettuce, bananas, local strawberries, blueberries, dandelion greens, tomatoes and blackberries, which he particularly enjoys. When Gus wants a walk, he summons museum staff by scratching on the side of his home. In summer, Gus heads straight out the doors to the museum’s pesticide-free lawns where he chomps clover and grass. Following closely behind is a “pied piper” line of kids. Gus has charmed the hearts of three generations of children. “They simply adore him,” said Janet Maltby, museum manager. “There have been thousands of love letters and drawings given to Gus over the years. We can’t keep them all, but we do have a box full of ‘I Love You Gus’ notes.” Gus has always been full of adventure, too. Thirty years ago, he went missing for almost a year. The kidnappers were never identified and one day Gus simply reappeared, roaming the museum halls. On another occasion, he disappeared behind a wall for months without food and water. There was also an escape and Gus was found heading toward the Public Gardens some two blocks away. He’s even been offered female companionship, which he ignored. Gus can drop names, too, if he wanted. He’s met Vincent Price, a president of Iceland, William H. Macy and wife Felicity Hoffman, Gordie Howe and Kate Beckinsale, to name a few. He was a regular guest on the CBC children’s show Switchback with Stan the Man in the 1980s. His national debut was on CBC TV Mid-day, and he even joined CTVs Vicki Gabereau Live show with Bruce Guthro, Mary Walsh and Lorna Smith. A list of fans and accomplishments truly worthy of the world’s oldest gopher tortoise, especially one whose popularity with young people never seems to go out of style.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “She was injured, she had a wound on her right side and doctors were trying to help her. There was a bandage on the wound. She was lying in the street and there were about five or six police around her, some of them were carrying guns.” The raid took place at a Victorian property on Harlesden Road and locals reported hearing a number of shots as heavily armed officers from the Met’s Counter Terror Specialist Firearms command stormed the house. Police have arrested four people during the operation in Willesden and KentCredit:Eyevine Harlesden Rd still cordoned off by the police, forensic vans just left the area. Residents allowed in under police escort. pic.twitter.com/MngBSrf5j8— Jakub Krupa (@JakubKrupa) April 27, 2017 “An armed entry was necessary due to the nature of the intelligence that we were dealing with, and involved armed officers firing CS into the address. Police outside the home in Harlesden Road on Thursday eveningCredit:Jakub Krupa Six people were arrested during the operation and police said the woman remained in a serious but stable condition in hospital. The injured woman is in hospital and has not been arrested yet Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, who is the senior national coordinator for Counter Terror Policing said the operation had foiled an “active plot” and he paid tribute to the officers involved.It is understood the police had been watching the property as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism operation, but decided to go in after receiving specific intelligence. Counter Terrorism operation in #Willesden – Four arrested and woman shot #Brent https://t.co/B1BNBT4pZB pic.twitter.com/8VGLXMPOu9— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) 27 April 2017 “During the course of that operation one of the subjects of that operation – a woman – was shot by police – she remains in hospital.”Her condition is serious but stable. Because of her condition she has not yet been arrested. We are monitoring her condition closely.” He added: “In total six people have now been arrested in connection with that investigation – five at or near the address and one in Kent.”The two further arrests were made when a man and a woman – both aged 28 – returned to the address later last night.”Searches are ongoing at three London addresses – including Harlesden Road – as part of this investigation.”Due to these arrests that we have made, I believe that we have contained the threats that they posed.” The operation took place just a few hours after a man was arrested in Westminster on suspicion of terrorism offences after being stopped close to Downing Street carrying a rucksack packed with knives.But Scotland Yard said the two matters were unrelated.Mr Basu said: “Our highly trained firearms officers carried out a specialist entry into an address in Harlesden Road that we had under observation as part of a current Counter Terrorism investigation. Locals described how they saw heavily armed officers wearing bulletproof vests stormed the address just after 7pm.They said the house was occupied by a family of three who were occasionally visited by a an older woman in her 40s.Neighbours said the injured woman was brought out of the house on a stretcher, wearing a burkha.One said she shouted “don’t touch my body” as paramedics tried to tend to her wounds. Another neighbour said: “It’s so scary, I don’t know the family but I heard the gunshots. I never expected something like this.”Police said six people had been arrested including a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old woman who were detained at the address. Ruth Haile, 40, who has lived in the area for nine years and who witnessed the raid said: “I heard a shot and I looked out my window and there were dozens of police.”The woman was being arrested, she was on the floor wearing an long dress and covered in a head scarf. She was shouting, ‘Do not touch me, do not touch my body.’ A 20-year-old man was arrested near to the address and a 43-year-old woman was arrested in Kent a short while later.Two further people, a man and woman both aged 28, were arrested when they returned to the address last night.All four have been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorist acts under section 41 of the terrorism act 2000.The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been informed of the incident, as is routine for police shootings. A police operation in north London during which a woman was shot, foiled an active terror plot, Scotland Yard has said.Armed officers raided a property in the Willesden area shortly after 7pm on Thursday evening and a woman in her 20s was shot by police.