Jonathan the Tortoise: World’s oldest living land animal celebrates 191st birthday

Jonathan the Tortoise: World’s oldest living land animal celebrates 191st birthday

St. Helena's esteemed national treasure, predating the age of telephones, continues to thrive and is anticipated to reach his third century.

Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise and the world's oldest living terrestrial creature, recently marked his 191st birthday.

Emerging around 1832, Jonathan predates key innovations like postal stamps, the telephone, and photography.

This iconic tortoise has witnessed the entire U.S. Civil War, most of Queen Victoria's reign, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, and both World Wars.

Residing on Saint Helena since 1882, Jonathan has gracefully withstood the passage of time, enduring periods of historical significance.

Notably, he has shared a 26-year companionship with another male tortoise, demonstrating his adaptability and resilience.

Jonathan not only holds the title of the world's oldest living terrestrial creature but also stands as the most senior member of the chelonian family, encompassing tortoises, turtles, and terrapins.

Recognized as a national treasure in St Helena, Jonathan is featured on the local five pence coin. Despite being blind and lacking a sense of smell, he freely roams the grounds of the Governor's house.

Jonathan at Plantation House | St Helena Island
Photo: StHelena

According to his veterinarian, Joe Hollins, Jonathan is currently in good health, and indicators suggest optimism that he may reach his third century. The exact date of his birth remains uncertain, estimated based on his maturity upon arriving on the island in 1882.

The St Helena Island website acknowledges the uncertainty, likening it to the arbitrary assignment of celebration dates, such as December 25 for Jesus's birthday.

Age poses no barrier to a fulfilling life, as exemplified by Jonathan the Tortoise at 191.

In the 1980s, Jonathan experienced irritability attributed to loneliness but found companionship in 1991 with a mate named Frederica. Despite no offspring, it took 26 years to realize Frederica was male.

Jonathan's enduring vitality includes a "good libido," noted by his veterinarian. Despite blindness and loss of smell, he shows no signs of slowing down, with a dedicated team ensuring his well-being.

Jonathan predates major inventions like the modern bicycle (1885), commercial lightbulb (1879), powered airship (1852), photograph (1839), and revolver (1836), according to the Guinness World Records.

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