Jonathan, The World’s Oldest Living Tortoise Turns 190 Years Old

Jonathan, The World’s Oldest Living Tortoise Turns 190 Years Old


Recognized by the Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest tortoise alive, Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise is turning 190 years old in 2022. And what could be a more fitting tribute for this milestone than to commemorate his record-breaking lifespan and knowing more about the oldest known living animal on Earth. 

Scientific studies reveal that chelonians – a category of reptiles which includes turtles, tortoises, and terrapins – have an average lifespan of around 100 years. However, wild tortoises are noted to live over 150 years. So, it’s really not surprising to hear about tortoises reaching the centennial-age mark. Unless, of course, the animal in discussion is currently the world’s oldest land animal alive. Jonathan the giant tortoise currently holds the record at 189 years old. Still going strong, he is set to break his own record when he turns 190 years old this year. 

Jonathan, The World’s Oldest Living Tortoise Turns 190 Years Old In 2022 


Jonathan the Giant Tortoise
Xben911 | Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan was originally from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean before he was brought to St. Helena Island, part of the British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. Records say that when he arrived at St. Helena in 1882, he was ‘fully mature’ which means he was at least 50 years old at the time. Although no one knew his exact birth year, records affirm that Jonathan was born circa 1832.Jonathan the tortoise
Wikimedia Commons

The claim was further supported by an old photograph of him grazing on the grounds of Plantation House in St. Helena which was taken between 1882 and 1886. He appears to be fully-grown on the said photo. 
The super-centenarian chelonian has been residing at the Plantation House, the official residence of the governor of St. Helena, since he was gifted to Sir William Grey-Wilson. In the 1930s, the then St. Helena governor Sir Spencer Davis gave him the name Jonathan. Throughout his life at the Plantation House, he has seen 32 governors come and go on the same grounds even until today. 

Five years ago, old age began to take its toll on Jonathan when he lost his eyesight and sense of smell. The governor had to call Dr. Joe Hollins, a local vet, to monitor his health and put him on a healthier diet. Despite his age-related issues, Jonathan is still very healthy and still has a good hearing skills. And despite being older than the Eiffel Tower, the world’s oldest tortoise still loved to stroll around his gardens together with three other giant tortoises named David, Fred, and Emma. 

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