A Seychelles Giant Tortoise Named Jonathan Is the Oldest Known Living Land Dwelling Animal in the World

Jonathan and another tortoise a St Helena

A Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan, who is thought to be approximately 188 years old, holds the distinctive honor of being the oldest living terrestrial animal in the world. It is believed that Jonathan hatched around 1832, though no exact date is known. This ancient Testudinidae has lived most of his life at the Plantation House on the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Jonathan was brought to the island from the Seychelles in 1882, along with three other tortoises at about 50 years of age. He was named in the 1930s by Governor Sir Spencer Davis. He continues to live in the grounds of the official residence of the Governor, at Plantation House and belongs to the government of Saint Helena.

Jonathan also holds the Guinness World Record for Oldest-Known Land Animal Alive today.

In his lifetime, Jonathan has lived through two world wars, the Russian Revolution, seven monarchs on the British throne and 39 US presidents. His estimated year of birth also predates the release of the Penny Black, the first postage stamp (1840), the building of the first skyscraper (1885) and the completion of the Eiffel Tower (1887) – the tallest iron structure. Other human milestones to have taken place in his long life include the first photograph of a person (1838), the first incandescent light bulb (1878) and the first powered flight (1903).

Though he’s elderly, Jonathan remains friendly to humans and doesn’t seem to mind bathtime too much.

Jonathan the Tortoise at Plantation House
photo by Kevstan