Corpus tortoise off-course


Ian Cheong

The recent wave of tortoise-mania at Corpus Christi continued last Sunday with the College’s annual tortoise fair.

Corpus’ newlywed tortoises Foxe and Oldham took part in a race alongside tortoises from Lincoln, Univ, Jesus, Regent’s Park, Christ Church, LMH, and a suspiciously human-looking representative from Balliol. Newcomer Tilly, of Jesus College, snagged this year’s coveted championship.

Alexander Coupe, the JCR Tortoise Keeper and co-organiser of the event, said: “This year’s race saw the most ever participants, from all colleges and of all ages. University’s tortoise is just a baby and Regent’s Park’s Emmanuelle is over a hundred years old. Sadly, our Foxe and Oldham didn’t quite make it to the end – they seemed quite keen to ‘wrestle’ with other tortoises!”

Guillaume Lefevre, a student at St. Edmund’s Hall, said: “I came all the way from Teddy Hall to catch the race. It is not often you get to see some ten tortoises race each other and when the buzzer sounded, I was overwhelmed with immense excitement. I think by the end of the race, the finish was too climatic for me and I started hyperventilating. The pressure was too much to bear!”

Although the fair also featured a barbeque, fair games, croquet and music, the race remained the main attraction. Eugene Campbell, a post-graduate student at Lincoln College, said: “I definitely came for the race. It was the main highlight of the fair but the other activities organised were also very fun. My friends and I learnt how to play croquet, and we all had a very good time.”

In total, the event raised £2000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. Coupe said: This is the most we’ve ever raised. One of our students recently contracted leukaemia and has had to take a year out. We thought we’d show solidarity and give to charity at the same time.

“The college was very enthusiastic and everyone was very helpful, especially the two former tortoise keepers. The dean seemed quite pleased that nothing got smashed as well.”

Corpus has had a long history of owning tortoises. The first evidence of a college tortoise was from as early as 1898. The fair has been organised since the late 1960s and is one of the highlights of the college’s calendar.