In a world that has witnessed significant historical events and cultural transformations, one living being stands out as a testament to endurance and longevity—Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise. Born in approximately 1832, Jonathan recently celebrated his 191st birthday, securing his position as the world’s oldest living land animal.
Jonathan’s existence predates crucial inventions like the postal stamp, the telephone, and the photograph, offering a unique perspective on the passage of time. Living through the US Civil War, the reign of Queen Victoria, the tumultuous periods of the Soviet Union, and two world wars, he has become an iconic figure on the island of Saint Helena.
Residing on Saint Helena since 1882, Jonathan has become a national treasure and a symbol of resilience. Despite the challenges of aging, such as blindness and the loss of smell, he continues to roam freely on the grounds of the Governor’s house. His extraordinary life has also included a surprising 26-year partnership with another male tortoise, Frederica, revealing the complexities of his relationships.
His vet, Joe Hollins, notes that Jonathan’s life remains vibrant, showcasing a “good libido” and an unwavering appetite. While the exact date of Jonathan’s birthday remains unknown, the island commemorates an arbitrarily assigned celebration date, drawing parallels to the celebration of Jesus’s birthday on December 25.
Jonathan’s age is estimated based on his arrival on the island in 1882 when he was already fully mature. Despite the challenges of aging, he receives dedicated care, with a small team providing him with a weekly diet of fruits and vegetables to supplement his caloric intake and essential nutrients.
Jonathan’s remarkable journey reflects not only the passage of time but also the adaptability and resilience of living beings in the face of change. As he continues to defy expectations, Jonathan serves as a living witness to history, embodying the enduring spirit of life.