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Posted: 8th December 2023

World’s oldest land animal celebrates 191st birthday
Jonathan has outlived the species' 150 year life expectancy.
Jonathan the tortoise shows ‘no sign of slowing down’.

A tortoise, recognised as the world’s oldest living land animal and oldest chelonian, has celebrated what is estimated to be his 191st birthday.

Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, is believed to have been born in 1832, based on the fact he was at least 50 years old in 1882. However, this conservative estimate means he could be even older.

This means he has lived far longer than the species’ life expectancy of 150 years.

Jonathan arrived on the island of St Helena 141 years ago, and has resided at Plantation House, the home of St Helena’s governor, ever since.

In his lifetime, there have been eight British monarchs, 37 UK Prime Ministers and 40 US presidents.

He now spends his days relaxing in the sunshine with three other tortoises: David, Emma and Frederick. Even in his old age, his long-time veterinary surgeon Joe Hollins told Guinness World Records that Jonathan has a ‘good libido’, and still attempts to mate with both Emma and Frederick.

A typical, sunny day will see the 191-year-old taking in the heat by extending his long neck and legs to absorb heat and transfer it to his core. On cooler days, he buries himself under a mound of leaves or grass clippings and stays there all day.

Jonathan also loves his fruit and vegetables, with his 190th birthday cake including many of his favourite snacks such as cabbage, carrots and lettuce hearts.

Despite losing his sense of smell and much of his eyesight, Dr Hollins says he shows no sign of slowing down on his 191st.

Speaking to Guinness World Records, he said: “It is extraordinary to think that this gentle giant has outlived every other living creature on land, including of course the whole human race.

“Jonathan is in good health and all the indications at present make us hopeful that he will reach his third century – if indeed he hasn’t done so already!”

Image © Guinness World Records

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