The World’s Oldest Living Land Animal, a Tortoise Named Jonathan, Turns 191

X (Twitter) // @SDG2030

Jonathan is not just any turtle. He’s constantly breaking his own record as the oldest chelonian ever. At 191 years old, this Seychelles giant tortoise is still going strong, and his story is an impressive one! Born around 1832, he predates the telephone, lightbulb, and even postage stamps. He’s seen countless world leaders and conflicts in his time. Luckily for him, being a tortoise, he probably doesn’t care all that much.

A Living Legend’s Journey Through Time

Jonathan is living a high life as a local celebrity. He’s so famous, in fact, that he made it onto the island’s five pence coins. His residence is none other than the elegant “Plantation House,” the official governor’s digs on Saint Helena. Imagine Jonathan and his three tortoise buddies enjoying the good life on those manicured lawns. Who knew a tortoise could be such a rock star?

When he was gifted to the island’s governor in 1882, Jonathan was already fully grown. Experts think he must have been around 50 then, but no one knows for sure. Everyone deserves a birthday, though, so Governor Nigel Phillips declared that Jonathan’s birthday was officially December 4, 1832.

The Oldest Animal’s Diet Plan

Even in his golden tortoise years, Jonathan is defying the odds. His vet, Joe Hollins, revealed that despite a weakened sense of smell and nearly being in the “turtle glasses” club due to cataracts, Jonathan is still a foodie at heart. He gets a special meal once a week, hand-fed with a mix of tasty fruits and veggies by his dedicated human squad. He needs to get his vitamins and minerals, after all.

X (Twitter) // @GWR

The Seychelles giant tortoises, like Jonathan, faced extinction in the 1800s due to exploitation and habitat loss. Today, their survival is threatened by inbreeding, highlighting the need for conservation efforts. Despite debates about their genetic identity, Jonathan’s 191st birthday stands as a remarkable testament to resilience and survival.

Jonathan and Friends

Jonathan’s also got a romantic tale to tell. Back in 1991, Frederika, another tortoise, arrived on the island as a gift. As reported by Michael Binyon in 2017, Jonathan and Frederika hit it off right away! They formed a close bond, and everyone thought they were the perfect tortoise couple. But when Frederika had a checkup, the vet discovered that she was most likely a he!

X (Twitter) // @rjaryan_

Living the good life with pals Frederik (formerly Frederika), David, and Emma, Jonathan is quite the charismatic tortoise. Even at his age, Jonathan’s got a strong romantic spirit. According to his vet, Joe Hollins, Jonathan is often spotted engaging in lovey-dovey activities with Emma and occasionally with Fred. Love knows no age, and Jonathan proves that romance can blossom at any stage in life!