Worlds Oldest Tortoise, Jonathan, Celebrates 190th Birthday This Year

These snaps taken recently and in the late 1800s show Jonathan the giant tortoise, who turns 190 this year and is believed to be the oldest tortoise to ever live.

It is not known exactly when Jonathan was born, but experts believe he hatched around 1832, making him an astonishing 190 years old this year.

He lives on the far-flung island of Saint Helena, which is a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean lying 1,210 miles off the coast of south-western Africa.

Jonathan the giant tortoise this year will celebrate his 190th birthday — making him the oldest tortoise that lives on the remote island of St. Helena in the United Kingdom.
(Mathias Falcone/Newsflash)

Jonathan hails from the Seychelles, an island country and former British colony in the Indian Ocean, and he was taken by ship to Saint Helena in 1882.

Teeny Lucy of the Saint Helena Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said: “Jonathan was fully grown at that time, which would be at least 50 years old, so his hatching year would have been about 1832.”

According to records, Jonathan was a gift to Saint Helena from British colonial administrator Sir William Grey-Wilson (1852-1926), who would go on to govern the island from 1887 to 1897.

Lucy said of Jonathan: “He is the oldest land animal in the world – [there are] many older [animals] in the ocean!”

Jonathan (left) c.1882-86, on the grounds of Plantation House, St Helena.

And Guinness World Records agrees, having certified Jonathan as the oldest chelonian, an order of reptiles uniting all turtles.

Jonathan has outlived the average lifespan of his species by some way. Due to his advanced age, he is largely blind from cataracts and no longer has a sense of smell. However, he has kept his appetite, and his favourite food is said to be lettuce.

Another thing he has kept is his libido, and he regularly mates with fellow giant tortoises Emma, and even sometimes with their fellow giant tortoise Fred.

On Jonathan’s real age, Guinness World Records said: “In all likelihood, he is even older than we think.”

When Jonathan was brought from Seychelles to the remote island of Saint Helena in 1882, he was fully mature and was already at least 50 years old.

To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: William McGeeSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash

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