The fallout between the two tortoises, Bibi and Poldi, ends what was the world's oldest known animal "marriage."
As the zoo's director Helga Happ told the Austrian Times, "We get the feeling they can't stand the sight of each other anymore."
Signs of the breakup were not hard to detect. Bibi, seemingly tired of Poldi's attentions, hauled off and bit his shell one day. She later attacked him again, forcing the puzzled staff to move him to a separate enclosure.
The good news is that they did not decide to kill each other. Tortoises don't have teeth, but they do possess a horn-rimmed mouth and extremely powerful jaws. They could have easily done each other in. The zoo staff did not want to wait around for that to possibly happen.
Happ said, "They are both 115 years old — they have been together since they were young and grew up together, eventually becoming a pair. But for no reason that anyone can discover they seem to have fallen out, they just can't stand each other."
She and other zoo staff are trying everything to save the marriage. They have given the pair "counseling," "romantic good food," and have tried to get the tortoises interested in "joint games," but all to no avail so far.
Bibi appears to be enjoying her new life as a single tortoise gal.
She and Poldi first met at the Basel Zoo in Switzerland. They were then moved together to the Austrian zoo in Klagenfurt, where they were together for 36 years. Their routine hasn't changed much over the years.
Tortoises have been known to live for 150 years or more, so hope prevails that the couple will somehow patch things up.
Happ said, "We have staff talking to and trying to engage the two in interacting, and we hope that they might find their harmony again. We were told that it's very rare that after so many years animals who are a pair will fall apart, but that's where we are. We hope though we can bring round a reconciliation."