Tortoises are known to have surprisingly long lifespans, living well over 150 years. However, one particular specimen has far exceeded this. Jonathan the tortoise has turned 191 years old, holding his title of the oldest living land animal by yet another year.
Jonathan is a Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa), who has called the remote Island of Saint Helena home since 1882. Since he was fully mature when he was given as a present to the governor at the time, he must have been at least 50 years old. As such, academics estimate that the tortoise was born in 1832.
This claim was further supported by an old photograph taken between 1882 and 1886. In the image, Jonathan can be seen grazing in residency gardens of William Grey-Wilson, the Overseas British territory Governor of St. Helena at the time. Since there were no records of his actual hatching, the government granted him an official birthday to mark his 190th year—December 4.
The Guinness World Records has officially acknowledged Jonathan as the oldest known living land animal and the oldest chelonian, which include tortoises, turtles, and terrapins. “Jonathan has lived through many major events in modern-day history,” writes the Guinness World Records. “When he was born in 1832, William IV was Britain's king. Queen Victoria, who was 13, would not accede to the throne until Jonathan was 5. When Jonathan was 2, Britain abolished slavery. ” Additionally, he has live through two world wars and 40 U.S. presidents.
Despite his advanced age, Jonathan is still in great shape. Although he is now blind from cataracts and has lost his sense of smell, he spends his days roaming the grounds of the Governor’s house with his tortoise pals, three other giant tortoises called Emma, David, and Fred—the latter of whom was introduced as a mate for Jonathan, before they realized he was a male. Due to this misidentification, Jonathan has no offspring of his own.
“It is extraordinary to think that this gentle giant has outlived every other living creature on land, including of course the whole human race,” said his vet, Joe Hollins. “Jonathan is in good health and all the indications at present make us hopeful that he will reach his third century—if indeed he hasn’t done so already!”
Jonathan the tortoise has turned 191 years old, holding title of the oldest living land animal by another year.
“It is extraordinary to think that this gentle giant has outlived every other living creature on land, including of course the whole human race,” said his vet, Joe Hollins.
h/t: [Live Science]