With eyes twinkling like the first stars of the night, Janus the two-headed turtle gazes at the world around him. A tortoise like no other, Janus boasts two very distinct personalities. Born in the embrace of the Geneva Natural History Museum in Switzerland, he’s now become the official mascot, mesmerizing people with his dual faces for more than two decades.
Janus, a radiant symbol of duality, is not just a wonder to behold, but also the world record holder for the oldest living two-headed turtle. Each year, a celebration marks his birthday, and his 25th was no different. Amidst the melody of life, Janus thrives and charms with two hearts, two pairs of lungs, and a shared digestive system that unites his contrasting personalities.
His right head, filled with curiosity and vigor, controls the legs on the right side, while the left, more passive and food-loving, controls the left. They may sometimes disagree on the path, but Janus’ life journey is a fascinating dance where each head complements the other. “His movements are not fully coordinated, the two heads do not always agree on the direction and sometimes try to take opposite directions,” Angelica Bourgoin, his caretaker, observed.
Bourgoin’s loving insights into Janus’s life reveal a tortoise brimming with character. One head is greedier, the other more passive, but both share a unique vitality. Janus enjoys his days filled with organic produce, endives for one head, carrots for the other, and his luxurious pampering with daily massages, green tea, and chamomile baths. Even music sweeps through his soul, uplifting him like the wind beneath a bird’s wings.
But not all is serene in Janus’ life. His inability to retract his heads into his shell makes survival in the wild impossible. This vulnerability has made the museum his sanctuary, where he glides on his custom skateboard, and revels in the attention and devotion that have kept him thriving.
Despite his celebratory existence, challenges cast shadows on Janus’ path. A bladder stone operation and the soreness of his rubbing heads bear testament to his resilience. Named after the Roman God of beginnings, transitions, duality, and endings, Janus embodies his namesake’s essence, navigating the complexities of life with grace.
Living as part of the Greek spur-thighed tortoise species, known for a natural lifespan of over 120 years, Janus’ life in captivity may be shorter, yet it’s rich with love and care. He has become a beacon of wonderment for museum visitors, a turtle with a story that transcends the ordinary. A fighter, a survivor, and a muse – Janus’ tale is an enchanting tapestry woven with threads of courage, joy, and duality.
Learn more about Janus, experience his beauty, and dive into his world. Share his story with friends and family, or better yet, visit the museum and witness firsthand the marvel that is Janus. As we marvel at this extraordinary tortoise, let us also be inspired to act for animal welfare, and remember to adopt, not shop.