Animal associations

Meet the oldest living land animal in the world, Jonathan the turtle who is 190 years old

The world’s oldest living land animal on record, a turtle named Jonathan who resides on the island of Saint Helena, celebrates its 190th birthday and has claimed a new world record title.

“Its official record title is Oldest Chelonian, a category that encompasses all tortoises, tortoises, and tortoises,” Guinness World Records shared on Facebook.

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

Jonathan is believed to have been born in 1832. Photos taken between 1882 and 1886 at Plantation House, the governor’s residence of St. Helena where Jonathan spent most of his life, show an adult Jonathan happily browsing on grass. next to another turtle.

Jonathan arrived in Saint Helena from the Seychelles in 1882 and was presented as a gift to the then Governor, Sir William Grey-Wilson. Since then, 31 additional governors have served.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of the Government of Saint Helena)

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

Jonathan has lost his sight and sense of smell, but is doing well and enjoying life grazing the soil at Plantation House. His keepers hand-feed him once a week to boost his intake of calories, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, Guinness World Records reported. His hearing is excellent and he recognizes the voice of his personal veterinarian, Dr. Joe Hollins, and associates it with delicious treats.

Epoch Times Photo
Jonathan is hand fed once a week. (Courtesy of the Government of Saint Helena)

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

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

(Courtesy of the Government of Saint Helena)

To the cameras, Hollins said, “What an honor! I’m in my profession because I love animals, and I have the world’s oldest known living land animal here and take care of it. Isn’t it 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”. It also likes to sunbathe in mild weather, absorbing the sun’s heat through its long neck and legs, which are stretched out of its shell, and transferring the heat to its heart. When it’s cold, it burrows under leaves or grass clippings to stay warm.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of the Government of Saint Helena)

According to experts, it is also quite possible that Jonathan is older than we think.

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Louise Rooms


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