Meet the World’s Oldest Living Land Animal, Jonathan the Tortoise Who Is 190 Years Old

Meet the World’s Oldest Living Land Animal, Jonathan the Tortoise Who Is 190 Years Old

The world’s oldest living land animal on record, a tortoise named Jonathan who resides on St. Helena island, is celebrating his 190th birthday and has gained a new world record title.

“His official record title is oldest chelonian, a category which encompasses all turtles, terrapins, and tortoises,” Guinness World Records shared on Facebook.

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

Jonathan is believed to have been born in 1832. Photos that were taken between 1882 and 1886 at Plantation House, the residence of the Governor of St. Helena where Jonathan has spent most of his life, show a fully grown Jonathan happily grazing on the grass beside another tortoise.

Jonathan arrived in St. Helena from Seychelles in 1882 and was presented as a gift to then-governor, Sir William Grey-Wilson. Since then, 31 additional governors have held office.

(Courtesy of St Helena Government)

Despite his longevity, Jonathan is not alone at the governor’s residence. He enjoys the company of three other resident tortoises, David, Emma, and Fred.

Jonathan has lost his sight and sense of smell but is faring well and enjoying life grazing the ground at Plantation House. His keepers feed him by hand once a week to boost his calorie, vitamin, mineral, and trace element intake, Guinness World Records reported. His hearing is excellent, and he recognizes his personal vet Dr. Joe Hollins’s voice and associates it with tasty treats.

Jonathan is hand-fed once a week. (Courtesy of St Helena Government)

Millions fell in love with Jonathan after footage of his very first bath was shared on YouTube in March 2016. Jonathan was an estimated 184 years old at the time.

He was washed by Hollins, on the grounds at Plantation House, using a gentle, circular scrubbing method and non-abrasive materials, which were pre-approved by a tortoise specialist. The inspiration for bathing Jonathan came after Hollins cleaned and transformed the shell of a female tortoise living on the same site.

(Courtesy of St Helena Government)

To the cameras, Hollins said, “What an honor! I’m in my profession because I love animals, and I’ve got here the oldest-known, living land animal in the world and I’m looking after him. Isn’t that amazing?”

According to Hollins, Jonathan has simple pleasures — he enjoys sleeping, mating, and eating. Cabbage, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, apple, and banana are his favorite foods, although the latter “tends to gum up his mouth.” He also likes to sunbathe on mild days, absorbing the sun’s heat through his long neck and legs, which are stretched out of his shell, and transferring the heat to his core. When it’s cold, he burrows under leaves or grass cuttings to stay cozy.

(Courtesy of St Helena Government)

As per experts, it’s also highly possible that Jonathan might be older than we think.

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Louise Chambers is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.

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Meet the World’s Oldest Living Land Animal, Jonathan the Tortoise Who Is 190 Years Old

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