Meet the oldest animal in the world: Jonathan’s tortoise

Jonathan, at only 189 years old, is considered the oldest land animal in the world. Native tortoises from the Seychelles archipelago hold the nickname “Guinness”, the Book of Records.

Among his achievements are the facts that he lived through two world wars, the Russian Revolution and the departure of 39 American presidents. Moreover, its existence predates the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, in 1887, and the first portrait of a person in 1838.

Photo dated between 1882 and 1886, shortly after Jonathan’s arrival on the island of Saint Helena

Photo: Reproduction / Guinness World Records

Born in 1832, Jonathan has lived on the island of Saint Helena since 1882, although his likely origin is Seychelles. He arrived at the place in his fifties, as a gift for William Gray Wilson, Governor of the British Overseas Territory – and has lived in William’s residence ever since.

Expert investigations indicate that Jonathan is one of the descendants of the giant tortoises that inhabited the Seychelles for many years. According to the group of freshwater turtle experts of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are currently only 80 of them alive on the entire planet.

The average life expectancy of these animals is 150 years.

Being older, the tortoise faces some health problems, such as cataracts that damage their eyesight and the absence of smell.

In an interview with the “Guinness Book of Records,” the animal’s official vet, Joe Hollins, said one of the “evidence of his well-being” is an active libido.

“Despite his age, Jonathan still has good libido and is often seen mating with Emma and sometimes Fred,” he told the newspaper. “Animals are often not particularly gender-insensitive.”

Jonathan lives with three other giant tortoises: in addition to his tortoise things Emma and Fred, there’s also David.

Vet Joe Hollins with Jonathan - Breeding / Guinness World Records - Breeding / Guinness World Records

Vet Joe Hollins with Jonathan

Photo: reproduction / Guinness World Records

Also according to Joe Hollins, anyone who visits St Helena can go say hello to the animal that is nearly two hundred years old – although some restrictions are adopted to preserve it. Among your daily habits are sunbathing and a balanced diet. One of his favorite foods is banana.

For a vet, having the oldest wild animal in their care is a great privilege, and something I never imagined would happen. I clung to him and liked the grumpy old creeper very much.”

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