Search

Highgate tortoise who defied Hitler comes back from the dead

15:59 18 April 2013

72-year-old Adolf the tortoise and his German war helmet. Picture: Polly Hancock

72-year-old Adolf the tortoise and his German war helmet. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A tortoise who survived a Nazi bomb and bonfires was feared to have met his match and been killed by this year’s snow – until he made a miraculous recovery.

Carey Miller with Adolf the tortoise, who has finally come out of hibernation. Picture: Polly HancockCarey Miller with Adolf the tortoise, who has finally come out of hibernation. Picture: Polly Hancock

Carey and David Miller believed their beloved pet Adolf was dead after he was caught outside in a late snowfall in their Highgate garden while they visited their son in New York.

His inert shell was discovered and taken inside by grandson Jake, eight, where it remained without a hint of life for a month.

Then last Sunday, just as they were about to give up hope, the Millers took Adolf outside their home in Woodside Avenue into the sunshine to see if the warmth might revive him.

“We thought he was dead,” said Mrs Miller, a children’s author and former headteacher of St Mary and St Pancras Primary in Camden.

Tortoise facts

* Tortoises have no teeth

* Male tortoises have longer tails than female tortoises

* The world’s fastest tortoise was recorded moving at 5mph...

* ...but the average speed of the huge Galapagos tortoise is just 0.2mph

* The world’s oldest tortoise is thought to be between 176 and 178

* Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimetres to two metres across

* Tortoises are found on every continent on earth except Antarctica

* There are about 40 different species in the world

“He was inert. We thought that was it. It was only on Sunday we took him out of the box and his head gradually came out. We were ecstatic!”

It is the latest in a long line of remarkable brushes with death for the tortoise whose actual age is unknown, but he is at least 70.

His current owners were told that he was discovered crawling in a crater caused by a parachute mine which had destroyed three houses along Woodside Avenue in 1942.

He was adopted by the neighbours and named William, remaining happily with them until the Millers bought the house 35 years ago.

They renamed him Adolf, in honour of surviving the Nazi attack, and he became a much-loved family pet.

However, it seems Adolf was not destined to live a quiet life. He has gone missing from the garden four or five times, giving the family a fright.

Then there was the time Adolf thought he had found a good place for a nap – only to be woken up as the bonfire above him was lit.

“My husband set fire to him accidentally – he lost a huge lump from his shell,” said Mrs Miller.

Luckily, his shell grew back, and Adolf is set to enjoy many more years of adventures.

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Fri, 14:06
Yasmin Farah

Police are appealing for the public’s help to find two sixteen-year-old girls who have gone missing from Camden.

Fri, 09:07
Mary Langan with her 23-year-old son, James

Carers of adults with demential and disabilities are demanding change after a report revealed there is a “breakdown of trust” on the Haringey boards designed to represent them.

Thu, 17:14
Nina Martynchyk with her foster mother, Nina B

A young woman who overcame anorexia is organising a conference with the Royal Free Hospital to draw attention to how the condition affects children and teenagers

Thu, 16:01
Highgate School

Students and staff at Highgate school were reflecting on a very impressive set of GCSE results today, with 88.2 percent of exams receiving a grade of A* or A.

Thu, 12:41
Hampstead School is in Westbere Road (Pic credit: Google streetview)

The Hampstead School has once again seen its GCSE results improve today, with nearly a quarter of all grades receiving an A* or A grade.

Thu, 11:53
Hornsey School for Girls

Girls at Hornsey School for Girls were today collecting some stellar GCSE results.

Thu, 11:44
Sam White has praised William Ellis pupils

The headteacher of William Ellis school, Sam White, was full of praise for his students today after a promising set of GCSE results.

Thu, 10:56
UCS school

University College School was today celebrating the second best set of GCSE results in its history, with a remarkable 88.6 percent of exams achieving either an A* or A grade.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The showroom is located in Hayes

After 25 years as a trade-only business, family-run door manufacturers Composite Door Master are set to open their first public showroom in Hayes this weekend.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now