The oldest animal in the world has just celebrated another trip around the sun, as he turned 190 years young on December 4th.
Jonathan the tortoise lives in Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. He has lived on this remote island since 1882, when Queen Victoria was still on the phone. And whilst he has spent the past 140 years on this remote island, he actually spent his youth- the first fifty years of his life- on the Seychelles.
As a Seychelles giant tortoise, Jonathan is indigenous to the Seychelles, Africa’s smallest country. He, and several other tortoises, were gifted to the governor of Saint Helena in 1882. He still lives in the grounds of the governor’s house today.
Despite officially celebrating his 190th birthday, some believe Jonathan could potentially be even older. Seychelles giant tortoises reach maturation at around the age of fifty, at which point they will no longer grow any larger. In 1882, Jonathan had already reached maturation, and 120 cm in size. His actual birthdate remains a mystery, however, last month the current governor of Saint Helena gave Jonathan an official birthday- December 4.
In honour of this day the island marked the occasion with a 3-day celebration. And whilst it may seem strange to throw a tortoise a larger party than the average person gets, Jonathan isn’t your average tortoise. He has been officially placed as the oldest living animal in The Guinness Book of Records. And as a mascot of this tiny nation, it is only right that Jonathan has a place on the coinage. His image is also adorned on the back of the Saint Helena five pence coin.
Due to his advanced years, Jonathan is unfortunately blind with cataracts. He does have friends to keep him company though, in the form of three other tortoises (though not the same ones that accompanied him on his trip to Saint Helena in 1882). His plantation-mates include Emma and David, both 54, and Frederika, at a young 31 years-old.