Jonathan, A 190-Year-Old Tortoise, Was Photographed In 1902 And Is Still Aʟɪᴠᴇ Today

Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa), will celebrate his 190th birthday this year at his home on the South Atlantic Island of St. Helena, a volcanic British Overseas Territory.

According to the Guinness World Records, the event will make the reptile the oldest-ever living chelonian, the reptile order that includes turtles, terrapins and tortoises. Previously, the record was held by Tu’i Malila, a Madagascar radiated tortoise gifted to Tonga’s royal family in 1777 and ᴅɪᴇᴅ in 1965 at 188 years old.

Teeny Lucy, the chairperson for the local SPCA, is one of his main caretakers. Jonathan lives on the lush grounds of the historic governor’s mansion, where Lucy and several others visit with him throughout the week with fresh veggies.

“Jonathan is an icon 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 fully grown adult; he has seen generations of people coming and going.”

Jonathan’s longevity has certainly surprised a lot of people, Lucy said. He’s the oldest member of his companions at the mansion, who consist of three other giant tortoises (Emma, David, and Fred); the second-oldest tortoise is his friend, 82-year-old David.

Jonathan is likely fully ʙʟɪɴᴅ, but he still makes his way around very well. He typically spends his days lounging in the sun, munching on grass and relaxing with his tortoise friends. It’s a very calm life for someone of such status; he’s so popular that his portrait is even on the back of the small island’s five pence coin.

“In spite of his age, Jonathan still has good ʟɪʙɪᴅᴏ and is seen frequently to ᴍᴀᴛᴇ with Emma and sometimes Fred – animals are often not particularly gender-sensitive,” Hollins explains to Guinness World Records.

The tortoise’s favorite foods include bananas, cabbage, carrots, and apples—hand fed to him by Hollins.

To celebrate his birthday, island officials plan to make a series of commemorative stamps, CNN reports. Visitors who make a trip to see Jonathan will receive a certificate featuring a photo of his first known footprint.

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