HomeOutdoorsNewsWorld’s Oldest Tortoise Turns 190 Years Old

World’s Oldest Tortoise Turns 190 Years Old

by Lauren Boisvert

Jonathan is a Seychelles tortoise who lives on Saint Helena, a British territory island in the South Atlantic Ocean. He’s also celebrating his 190th birthday with a three-day bash. Jonathan came to Saint Helena in 1882 as a gift to the governor of the island. He is well known as the oldest living land animal and the oldest living chelonian, which is the order of tortoises, turtles, and terrapins. Not only is he the oldest living land animal, but he is also the oldest ever recorded.

Now, Jonathan is turning 190 and gearing up for a fabulous party. It is suspected that he hatched sometime in 1832, but he was finally given an official birthday this year: December 4, 1832. Nigel Phillips, the governor of the British territory, granted Jonathan his birthday in November 2022.

Jonathan and friends on Saint Helena in about 1886. Photograph: PA/Courtesy of The Guardian

Being the oldest living land animal, Jonathan is no stranger to fame. He’s even on the back side of the 5-pence coin. But, the Guinness World Records suspects that Jonathan is even older than we think he is.

“Jonathan’s age is an estimation based on the fact that he was fully mature, and hence at least 50 years old, when he arrived in Saint Helena from Seychelles in 1882,” the organization reports. “In all likelihood, he is even older than we think.”

While Jonathan was young when Queen Victoria took the throne, he did not get to meet Saint Helena’s most famous resident, Napoleon Bonaparte, according to a report from The Guardian. Napoleon came to the island in 1815 and died six years later, while Jonathan arrived 67 years after Napoleon did.

Tortoise Named Jonathan to Celebrate Milestone Birthday with Three-Day Party

As for Jonathan’s party, it’s going to last three days and will bring residents together from all over the island. The celebration is starting at the governor’s house on Friday, Dec. 2. Jonathan will have a tortoise-friendly birthday cake, and share a visit with Governor Phillips and his wife. The party will also include an animated video about his life, and attendees will receive a special certificate. Residents will be able to buy Jonathan-themed stamps and peruse the winners of an art contest in Jonathan’s honor.

Jonathan’s life has been an interesting one. Most notable is the fact that he doesn’t have any descendants. Not for lack of trying, though. In 1991, he was presented with a mate named Frederica. He formed a deep emotional attachment to her and the two developed an intimate relationship. They never had any offspring, though. The reason? 26 years later, in 2017, closer inspection revealed that Frederica was actually a male tortoise.

Is Jonathan gay? Why not? We have gay penguins and lions, why not tortoises? What matters most is that Jonathan is celebrating a huge milestone, and we hope he gets to celebrate them for many more years after this one.