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 revered national treasure, predating the era of telephones, continues to flourish and is expected to reach his third century.

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

Originating around 1832, Jonathan precedes significant innovations such as postal stamps, the telephone, and photography.

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

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

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

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

Designated as a national treasure in St Helena, Jonathan is depicted on the local five pence coin. Despite being blind and lacking a sense of smell, he freely wanders 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 signs indicate optimism that he may live to see his third century. The precise date of his birth remains uncertain, estimated based on his maturity upon his arrival on the island in 1882.

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

Age presents no obstacle to a fulfilling life, as demonstrated 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," as noted by his veterinarian. Despite blindness and loss of smell, he exhibits no signs of slowing down, with a dedicated team ensuring his well-being.

Jonathan predates major inventions such as 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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