She came to Regents forty six years ago and quickly became a fixture of college life. During that time, she won many victories for Regents in the annual Corpus Tortoise Fair and other intercollegiate races from the 1970s-90s. These competitions saw her eat her way through a circle of lettuce faster than her rivals many times. These exploits are recorded in a special extant of the college archive, called the “Emmanuelle Cup”.
Her impact has extended beyond these glory years. She was appointed an honorary member of the JCR and a ‘Tortoise Keeper’ was elected annually to attend to her. Students threw her an ‘eleventy-first’ birthday party in 2014, although it is estimated that she is about twenty-five years younger. Raising 700£ for charity, this event was not only a celebration of a long life, but also of the unique role she had and the affection she inspired. Emmanuelle ‘belonged to everyone in the College, and in turn she created a sense of belonging’, wrote the college, describing her important role in the community. Current students say that the college is genuinely saddened by this loss, Emmanuelle was not merely a college pet, but a beloved member of Regents’ Park, immortalized in the college’s new stained glass windows and lovingly cared for by many students.
Emmanuelle’s birthday charity celebrations continued up until 2020, when she temporarily left her home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She returned with vigour in 2022, taking part in the Corpus Tortoise Fair, but falling short to Tortilla of Lincoln. Three other real tortoises took part in the race, as well as four human tortoises.
The college cites multiple conditions related to old age as her cause of death and estimate that she was between eighty and one hundred years old.
Image Credit: [Regents Park JCR]/via [https://www.rpc.ox.ac.uk/]