Jonathan The Oldest Known Living Tortoise (1832) Photographs

By: Anuradha 

We all feel sometimes that we are quite old now and that we have experienced enough in life. But no matter how old you are, you can never be old like the guy that I am going to tell about!

He is 186-187 years old and he is none other than a tortoise!

Jonathan the tortoise lived through world wars, industrialization, modernization and through all the big happenings of the world. I am not sure whether he was interested in any of these big happenings but he might be the only one who lives now from that time.

A photo of Jonathan was taken back in 1902 and at the time Jonathan was a full-grown tortoise of at least 50 years of age. So, his estimated birth date reaches back to 1832.

He was brought to the island of St Helena in 1882 where he still lives up to date. He is living at the Plantation house with the governor of St Helena and he shares his property with a crew of 5 other tortoises.

He is strong but his smell has started to go off along with his eye sight. But he has not lost his libido and he seem to be quite interested in the youngest female tortoise that he is living with.

Joe Hollis, the famous tortoise Vet who is in charge of Jonathan says that is actually a good sign of more healthy years to come as an active libido indicates health and youthful spirit.

However, there are some age-related declines that are notice in Jonathan such as getting colder than the others and he is also thinner and harder to keep weight on as he doesn’t eat as much grass as he should.

So, once a week Jonathan is getting a special meal with high calories to compensate this loss.

According to Dr Hollins researches, Jonathan can be 160 years old at the very youngest and at the oldest he is 180.  However, average life expectancy of a tortoise is 150 years and that means Jonathan has beat the odds.

The best news is that public are welcome to see this old man as long as you don’t bother him in sleep and all the photographs must be taken from a distance of 2-meteres to be exact.

All the tourists are quite eager to take pictures with Jonathan which he doesn’t like a lot and everyone who is there to protect him always try to keep people away from his because of his own safety.

As he has exceeded his life expectancy, special attention is given to protect the guy as he can be the last of his breed.

His vet says, “In truth he could die any day, but we obviously hope to extend his life as long as humanely possible. When the day come, it will be an international news story”.

Long live Jonathan!

Featured Image Credit: imgur

Photo Credits: imgur,, Guy Gatien, BBC,,, Joe Hollins, Darrin Henry