It’s too bad that Jonathan the tortoise no longer has much of a sense of smell. The Commonwealth Games baton is to arrive on St Helena on 19 February 2014, and it might well carry, to the well-tuned nose, the faint whiff of a giant tortoise.
Which would doubtless make an interesting change from the aroma of the other giant tortoises that share a paddock at Plantation House with Jonathan, the oldest known living creature on the planet.
It has been the custom, in past years, for the baton to be presented for Jonathan’s approval. The Games wouldn’t be the same without it.
But this time, some other tortoises got there first – and in the Seychelles, of all places, which happens to be where Jonathan comes from.
The diplomatic slight is revealed in a press release marking the half-way mark in the baton’s journey through 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, en route to Glasgow.
“Tt’s been taken diving in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, paraded by elephants in Sri Lanka and sniffed by giant tortoises in the Seychelles,” says the release.
It’s also been carried to the top of the tallest building in Oceania, and honoured with a national holiday in the island nation of Nauru.
- Animals met along the way include Koalas in Australia, and tigers in Kenya.
- It has travelled in a 19th Century steam train in Sri Lanka, motorised tricycles in Australia, and an outrigger canoe in Kiribati.
“The baton has visited some of the most remote regions in the world,” say the relay organisers, “including Kavieng, in Papua New Guinea, Tarawa Island in Kiribati, and the island nation of Niue, which is only connected by one weekly flight.
“Highlights of the international journey of the baton include a historic first visit to Rwanda, the youngest member of the Commonwealth, and – still to come – the last-ever baton sail to St Helena, in the South Atlantic, as the Royal Mail Ship will soon be replaced by an air link to the island.”
The baton will be on the island from 19 to 21 February, during which time it will be carried up Jacob’s Ladder. Its full schedule is still being finalised, according to the St Helena Tourism newsletter.
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