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The World's Oldest Living Land Animal Is ....

The world’s oldest living land animal? At age 190, it’s Jonathan the tortoise.

This great article from the Washington Post highlights Jonathan and his longevity.

Jonathan the tortoise has lived on one of the most remote islands in the world for 140 years. He has become somewhat of a media star recently, as he just got a lofty distinction: the oldest living land animal in the world. Jonathan is turning 190 this year. Well, that’s the best guess about the age of the 440-pound chelonian. “To be honest, I suspect he’s older, but we can never know,” said Joe Hollins, the veterinarian who cares for Jonathan on St. Helena island, a tiny volcanic British territory more than a thousand miles off the coast of Africa.

Jonathan has spent most of his life wandering (albeit slowly) with three other land tortoises around the grounds of the St. Helena governor’s residence, Plantation House. Jonathan is estimated to have hatched in 1832, according to a letter that mentions he arrived “fully grown” on St. Helena in 1882 from the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, he said. “Fully grown” in turtle context meant at least 50 years, Hollins said.

A photo taken between 1882 and 1886 shows Jonathan grazing at Plantation House, where he’d been presented to the governor of St. Helena as a gift, according to Hollins.

This historical photo taken in the late 1800s shows Jonathan, left, with another tortoise, now deceased. (Courtesy of Joe Hollins)

“It was quite traditional for [tortoises] to be used as diplomatic gifts around the world, if they weren’t eaten first,” he said, noting that they were harvested by ship crews because they were stackable and didn’t need food or water for days.

The tortoise has seen 31 St. Helena governors come and go and was likely alive for President Andrew Jackson’s second inauguration in 1833, as well as the inaugurations of the next 39 U.S. presidents.

 

It isn’t unusual for giant land tortoises to live up to 150 years, said Hollins, but Jonathan has endured longer than most people expected.The previous known longevity record was held by a radiated tortoise named Tu’i Malila, reportedly given to Tonga’s royal family in 1777. When Tu’i Malila died in 1965, she was about 188 years old, according to Guinness World Records.

Read the full article here.

 

 

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