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 beloved national treasure continues to amaze the world with his extraordinary lifespan. Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, recently celebrated his 191st birthday, making him the oldest living land creature on Earth.

Born around 1832, Jonathan predates the invention of many familiar technologies, such as postal stamps, the telephone, and even photography. He has witnessed countless historical events, including the entire U.S. Civil War, a significant portion of Queen Victoria's reign, both World Wars, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

Since 1882, Jonathan has gracefully traversed the grounds of the Governor's house on Saint Helena, enduring the passage of time with remarkable resilience. He has even found companionship in another male tortoise, named Frederica (although it took 26 years to realize Frederica was actually male!), demonstrating his adaptability and capacity for forming strong bonds.Jonathan's importance extends beyond his individual life. He is not only recognized as the world's oldest living land animal but also holds the title of the oldest member of the entire chelonian family, encompassing tortoises, turtles, and terrapins. This remarkable achievement has earned him the designation of a national treasure in St. Helena, with his likeness even appearing on the local five-pence coin.

Jonathan at Plantation House | St Helena Island
Photo: StHelena

Despite his age, Jonathan remains active and enjoys a good quality of life. He is blind and lacks a sense of smell, but his dedicated team ensures his well-being and allows him to continue his leisurely strolls. His veterinarian, Joe Hollins, even notes that Jonathan has a "good libido" and exhibits no signs of slowing down.

Jonathan's longevity surpasses that of many modern inventions. According to Guinness World Records, he predates creations like the modern bicycle, commercial lightbulb, powered airship, photograph, and revolver. This remarkable fact serves as a testament to the resilience of nature and inspires us to appreciate each moment.

Jonathan's story is a reminder that age is no barrier to a fulfilling life. He continues to thrive and is expected to reach his third century, proving that life, regardless of its age, can be filled with purpose and joy.

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