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Illustrated book explores life of popular Gus the gopher tortoise


At 101 years old, Gus the gopher tortoise mostly enjoys quiet and stillness, which makes him perfect for visitors who want to see the iconic animal up close.

“Children are not intimidated by him and sometimes Gus is the first exotic animal they will encounter,” said Heath McKinnon Ramshaw, Gus’s caregiver.

Gus has lived at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History in Halifax since the 1940s when the organization’s director at the time bought him in Florida. His popularity has steadily grown over the decades and he could reach even more fans with a new book about his life.

Nova Scotia Loves Gus” by Doretta Groenendyk is an illustrated story on the century of Gus’s life.

“Everyone loves Gus, so much so that it’s the name of the book,” said Jeff Gray with the museum. “It really looks at why Gus is special and why people love him.

“The book in many ways is a great way of encapsulating what a visit with Gus is like. It’s a great memento.”

Gus the gopher tortoise looks a new book about his life. (Source: Facebook/Museum of Natural History)

Gray said Gus is a fixture of the museum for people of all ages.

“For a lot of people he’s one of the first things you see on the way in and one of the last things you see on the way out,” he said. “We have literally had generations of families who have celebrated birthdays with Gus, visited with Gus.”

McKinnon Ramshaw has worked with Gus for more than 15 years and she says he’s the oldest known gopher tortoise in the world.

“It’s always an honour to look after Gus and be a part of his life,” she said. “Every year is more special the older he gets.”

The museum will hold a book launch event at 1747 Summer St. from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Check out a photo gallery of Gus here.

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