Jonathan The World's Oldest Tortoise Celebrates Landmark Birthday

Cameron Frew

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Jonathan The World's Oldest Tortoise Celebrates Landmark Birthday

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Jonathan, the world's oldest living tortoise, has just celebrated an incredible birthday.

The Seychelles giant tortoise has been living out his most recent days on the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena. 'Jonathan is an icon here. He is a grand old gentleman who has seen it all,' his caretaker earlier said.

While the Guinness World Record for the oldest animal ever belongs to a quahog clam, believed to more than 507 years old when it was found, Jonathan is the oldest living chelonian on Earth - and now, he's marked an amazing milestone.

Jonathan the tortoise. (Guinness World Records)
Jonathan the tortoise. (Guinness World Records)

There is some uncertainty over his exact age. 'He landed on St. Helena in 1882 as a fully grown adult; he has seen generations of people coming and going. Being the oldest land animal in the world, he has almost royal status here,' Teeny Lucy, the chairperson for the local SPCA and his caretaker, earlier told The Dodo.

Jonathan was believed to be at least 50 years old when he arrived on the island, placing his date of birth roughly around 1832. As such, he's now 190 years old, and he's lived through two world wars, 39 US presidents, seven British monarchs, the erection of the Eiffel Tower, and the moon landing, among many other events.

Jonathan is blind, but he lives peacefully alongside his tortoise pals: David, Emma and Fred.

'Jonathan has come through the winter well. He grazes well now but is unaware of food if we place it on the ground,' the St Helena government said in a statement, as per the Guinness World Records.


Jonathan, pictured left, around 1882-86 on the grounds of Plantation House, St Helena. (Guinness World Records)
Jonathan, pictured left, around 1882-86 on the grounds of Plantation House, St Helena. (Guinness World Records)

'The Veterinary Section is still feeding him by hand once a week to boost his calories, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, as he is blind and has no sense of smell. His hearing though is excellent, and he loves the company of humans and responds well to his vet Joe Hollins’ voice as he associates him with a feast,' it added.

According to Hollins, 'Jonathan enjoys the sun but on very hot days takes to the shade. On mild days, he will sunbathe - his long neck and legs stretched fully out of his shell to absorb heat and transfer it to his core.'

Also, in spite of his age, 'Jonathan still has good libido and is seen frequently to mate with Emma and sometimes Fred – animals are often not particularly gender-sensitive', the vet said.

Featured image credit: Alamy

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Topics: News, Animals

Cameron Frew
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