Jonathan the 190-Year-Old Tortoise Was Photographed in 1886 and Today

Jonathan the 190-year-old tortoise with a portrait of 1886

Jonathan is a giant tortoise that lives on the remote island of Saint Helena. It turns 190 years old this year, making it the world’s oldest turtle. Filmed until 1886 and today, Jonathan’s now photographs have been taken over a span of 136 years.

The oldest wild animal in the world

Jonathan is a Seychelles giant tortoise that reached Saint Helena by ship in 1882. A letter in the island’s records states that the tortoise was a gift to Saint Helena from British Colonial Governor Sir William Gray Wilson, who later became the island’s governor in 1887.

Jonathan was completely grown up by then [of arriving at St. Helena], which will be at least 50 years old, so its hatching year will be around 1832,” says Tinny Lucy of the St. Helena SPCA. “It is the oldest land animal in the world – [there are] a lot of old people [animals] In the ocean!”

Jonathan the 190-year-old tortoise
Photography by Tinny Lucy.

Celebrating his 190th birthday this year, Jonathan has just been certified as the world’s oldest land animal and oldest turtle ever by Guinness World Records.

The Guinness Book of World Records wrote: “His official record title is oldest cheloney player – a category that includes all tortoises, tortoises and tortoises.” “The Tu’i Malila was the oldest radiant tortoise that lived at least 188. Introduced to the royal family of Tonga by Captain Cook in 1777, the Tu’i Malila remained in their care until her death in 1965.

“Jonathan is believed to have been born J. in 1832, making him 190 years old in 2022. Jonathan’s age is an estimate based on the fact that he was fully mature, hence at least 50 years old, when he arrived in Saint Helena from Seychelles in 1882. In all likelihood, he’s even older than we think.”

An Aldabra giant tortoise named Adwaita died in March 2006 in India at an estimated age of 255, but Adwaita’s age has not been verified.

Jonathan was photographed in 1886

Jonathan is so old that his best known photos span over 136 years. A photograph taken by an unknown photographer in 1886 shows Jonathan with another giant tortoise on the grounds of St. Helena’s Government House.

Jonathan the tortoise with an unnamed tortoise in 1886
Jonathan the Turtle (left) with an unnamed tortoise in 1886.

Since Jonathan was quite mature in the photo, he looks almost the same in photos taken today.

Jonathan the 190-year-old tortoise
Photography by Tinny Lucy.
Jonathan the 190-year-old tortoise
Photography by Tinny Lucy.

Age is approaching Jonathan

Jonathan looks fine, but has lived way beyond the life span of his species, and has developed health problems in his advanced age for understandable reasons.

“Giant tortoises generally live for close to 150 years, so it does very well!” tell Lucy betapixel. “He is now mostly blind with cataracts and has lost his sense of smell, yet he knows his area so well that he moves around the large paddock and grazes the grass without any problems.

“We’re sure he knows the sound or feels the pressure of our steps and has a very good appetite.”

Jonathan the 190-year-old tortoise
Jonathan suffers from health problems in his old age. Helena Bennett’s photo.

Lucy and a vet named Joe hand-feed Jonathan once a week on Sundays to make sure he gets the nutrition he needs.

“In 2009, it was discovered that his beak (they don’t have teeth!) that usually shave grass was crumbly and soft and that Jonathan was losing weight,” Lucy says. “The extra weekly food that was introduced made a difference and now his beak has once again regained its sharp edge.

“Jonathan enjoys carrots, lettuce (his favorite), apples, guavas (in season), bananas, cabbage, and pears.”

Jonathan, the 190-year-old tortoise, eats some greens
Jonathan Feed. Photography by Tinny Lucy.

Jonathan’s Social Life in Saint Helena

Jonathan’s senses may let him down, but he still has a surprisingly active social life.

“There are 4 Giant Turtles in the Indian Ocean in St. Helena, Jonathan, David, Fred and Emma, ​​and they live in the Governor’s Residence Paddock – Plantation House,” says Lucy.

“Despite his age, Jonathan still has good sexual desire, and is often seen mating with Emma and sometimes with Fred – animals are often not particularly sensitive to sex!” Joe tells the Guinness Book of Records.

Jonathan the 190-year-old tortoise
Jonathan enjoys an active social life in Saint Helena. Image by Xben911 and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

When he’s not eating or spending time with fellow turtles, Jonathan is often quite sedentary.

“These turtles do not hibernate because there would be no need in the Seychelles, but because it can be very cold in the winter here, they all slow down a lot and spend more time inside their shells or tucked away in mounds of grass left over by gardeners in Plantation House,” says Lucy.

“Joe the vet and I feel very privileged to be involved in the care of this special animal and to celebrate his 190th birthday.”

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