The year was 1832 and Jonathan the turtle was just a small hatchling. The world was a very different place at that time; the lightbulb had yet to be invented, and cars were still half a century away.
But Jonathan, who is a Seychelles giant tortoise, lived to see it all. At around 189 years old, he’s now the oldest-known animal on the planet– and he’s living a relaxing life on the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he’s been since the late 1880s.
Teeny Lucy, the chairperson for the regional SPCA, is one of his primary caretakers. Jonathan lives on the lush grounds of the historic governor’s mansion, where Lucy and a number of others visit with him throughout the week with fresh veggies.
” Jonathan is a symbol right here,” Lucy told The Dodo in 2019. “He is a grand old gentleman who has seen it all. He landed on St. Helena in 1882 as a completely expanded adult; he has seen generations of people coming and going.”
Jonathan’s durability has certainly surprised a great deal of people, Lucy said. He’s the oldest member of his friends at the mansion, that consist of 3 other huge tortoises; the second-oldest tortoise is his friend, 82-year-old David.
Jonathan is most likely completely blind, however he still makes his way around very well. He typically spends his days lounging in the sunlight, munching on grass and relaxing with his turtle friends. It’s a really tranquil life for someone of such standing; he’s so popular that his picture is even on the back of the small island’s five pence coin.
” Being the oldest land animal in the world, he has nearly royal status right here,” Lucy said. “He is dignified and interacts in a friendly way as long as people move slowly around him. We are all very fond of him.”
Jonathan is certainly a pleased and social man– however a few years ago, he began having medical issues. Thankfully, all it took was a little diet change, and now he’s back in fantastic shape and still going solid, Lucy said.
” We began feeding Jonathan on a weekly basis a few years ago to supplement his grass diet plan and boost his nutrition,” she said. “This was because the island vet realized that his beak (that he scythes grass with) was soft and crumbly and that he was also cold and had actually lost weight. All that has turned around currently and he is as fit as a fiddle!”
While Jonathan has certainly seen his fair share of different caretakers over the years, it’s clear he values them just the same– as long as they bring him his favorite treats, of course.
” He knows my voice and he knows the vet’s voice and responds by walking toward us,” Lucy said. “It’s all about the food!”