Jonathan: 190-Year-Old Tortoise Becomes World’s Oldest Living Land Animal

Jonathan: 190-Year-Old Tortoise Becomes World’s Oldest Living Land Animal

  • Jonathan, the tortoise who boasts the title of the world's oldest living animal, has also bagged the title of oldest chelonian
  • Chelonian is a category that entails all turtles, terrapins and tortoises, whose previous title holder was Tu’i Malila; a radiated tortoise aged 188 years
  • Jonathan has lived through the first photograph of a man and the first telephone call made among other milestones

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The world's oldest living animal, Jonathan the tortoise, has yet again earned another Guinness World Records title.

Jonathan:190-Year-Old Tortoise is the oldest animal in the world.
Jonathan eating and relaxing. Photo: Guinness Book of Records.
Source: UGC

Oldest tortoise in the world

At 190 years old, Jonathan is the oldest tortoise in the world ever and now boasts the official record title of oldest chelonian – a category that entails all turtles, terrapins and tortoises.

The Guinness book of records reports that the Helena Government updated that Jonathan has "come through the winter well."

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"He grazes well now, but is unaware of food if we simply place it on the ground," the update read.

Associates vet with feast

"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," read another part of the update.

According to the update, his hearing is excellent; he loves the company of humans and responds well to his vet Joe Hollins's voice as he associates him with a feast.

Previous title holder was 188 years

Previously, the title of oldest chelonian belonged to Tu’i Malila; a radiated tortoise that lived to be 188 years.

Tu’i Malila was presented to the royal family of Tonga by Captain Cook in 1777, and he remained in their care until its death in 1965.

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It is believed that Jonathan was born in 1832, making him 190 years old this year. The estimation of Jonathan's age is based on the fact that he was fully mature and at 50 years old when he arrived in St. Hellana from Seychelles in 1882.

Has outlives 31 governors

He could be older than people think though as an old photograph taken between 1882 and 1886 was uncovered.

The photo shows a fully-grown Jonathan grazing on some grass in the garden of Plantation House which was the residence of the Governor of St Helena, where he spent most of his life.

Jonathan was gifted to Sir William Grey-Wilson and since then, 31 more governors have come and gone. Jonathan is still plodding around the same grounds today, in the company of three other giant tortoises: David, Emma and Fred.

Some of the milestones Jonathan has lived through include:

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• 1838 – the first photograph of a person was taken

• 1876 – the first telephone call was made

• 1878 – the first incandescent lightbulb was invented

• 1887 – the Eiffel Tower, the world’s tallest iron structure, was completed

• 1903 – the first power-driven flight took to the skies, flown by the Wright brothers (both USA)

• 1969 – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (both USA) became the first people on the Moon

Loves eating, sleeping and mating

The world around him has evolved and advanced in many ways but, Jonathan remains the same with his interests being sleeping, eating and mating.

According to vet Joe, 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."

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He added that when it’s cold, the world's oldest tortoise prefers to "dig himself into leaf mould or grass clippings and remain there all day."

Some senses have failed

Some of his senses have since failed him, such as his sight and smell but Jonathan still seems to have plenty of energy left!

"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!" Joe revealed.

Among Jonathan’s favourite foods are cabbage, cucumber, carrot, apple and other seasonal fruits.

"He loves banana, but it tends to gum up his mouth. Lettuce hearts, though not very nutritious, are a favourite," added Joe.


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