Jonathan the tortoise celebrates 190th birthday

The territory of Saint Helena honoured its beloved resident with a fruit and vegetable cake

Jonathan, the world’s oldest land animal rang in his 190th birthday over the weekend, surrounded by his closest friends, caregivers, and admirers.
Photo courtesy

The world’s oldest land animal rang in his 190th birthday this past weekend, surrounded by friends, caregivers, and admirers.

Hatched in 1832—five years before the coronation of Queen Victoria—Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, was honoured at Plantation House in Saint Helena. The British territory, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Angola and Namibia, has been his residence since 1882.

“Jonathan is truly a national treasure, loved by the people of Saint Helena,” the territory’s tourism board said in a post on its Facebook page. “This was shown when the community came together to celebrate his amazing milestone.”

Jonathan, who obtained the Guinness record for world’s oldest animal on land in 2019 at the age of 187, achieved the title of oldest chelonian (a category encompassing all turtles, terrapins, and tortoises) earlier this year.

Though he can no longer see or smell, Jonathan’s hearing is “excellent,” the Saint Helena Government said in an update about his health, adding, “He loves the company of humans and responds well to his vet Joe Hollins’ voice, as he associates him with a feast.”

In celebration of his birthday, Jonathan was presented with a cake consisting of his favourite fruit and vegetables.

The tortoise has lived through several significant human milestones, Guinness reports, including:

  • The first photograph of a person ever taken (1838)
  • The first telephone call (1876)
  • The invention of the incandescent lightbulb (1878)
  • The completion of the Eiffel Tower (1887)
Jonathan (left) with another giant tortoise in 1886.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons (photographer unknown)
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