Oxford University's 'much loved tortoise' who lived at College for more than 40 years dies

Emmanuelle, known by many as ‘Manny’, had been a resident at Regent's Park College since 1976. Credit: University of Oxford

A tortoise who lived at a University of Oxford College for more than 40 years has died.

Emmanuelle, known by many as ‘Manny’, had been a resident at Regent's Park College since 1976 when she was bought from a pet shop in Oxford’s Covered Market.

After struggling with multiple conditions relating to her old age, she died peacefully at the weekend, the College said, with their Chaplain by her side.

The College has released a tribute to the tortoise who won the Corpus Christi Tortoise Race, and starred on Nationwide and Blue Peter in the 1980s.

The College also has the Emmanuelle Cup in its College Archive which honours her lifetime service to the Oxford tradition of intercollegiate tortoise racing.

Recently, she was immortalised in the College Chapel’s new stained glass windows.

People originally thought she was a male, and was named Immanuel, but a later health condition revealed she wasn't and led to a change in her name.

The College said she has had a birthday party each year celebrating with a dandelion and cucumber cake.

She most recently celebrated her ‘119th’ birthday party but it's thought she would be closer to 80-100 years old.

The College said: "As well as a delightful pet, ‘Manny’ has been a symbol of our community life.

"There was always a feeling that she belonged to everyone in the College, but she in turn also created a sense of belonging: gathering groups around her and creating friendships through cross sections of the College, both past and present. 

"She was a full member of the JCR, with the annually elected position of ‘Tortoise Keeper’ being the most hotly contested role amongst student representatives!

"We want to note our gratitude to all the staff and Tortoise Keepers over the years who have given their time and care to her – as well as reserving the tastiest portions of the salad from lunch."