Meet Jonathan, the world’s oldest tortoise ever

02:14 PM Jan 14, 2022 | Team Udayavani |

Jonathan, the world’s oldest living land animal, has now been named the world’s oldest tortoise by Guinness World Records.


At St Helena Island, British Overseas Territory, Jonathan celebrated his 190th birthday. He has the distinction of being the world’s oldest chelonian, which includes all turtles, terrapins, and tortoises.

Jonathan is believed to have been born in 1832, making him 190 years old in 2022, according to the Guinness World Records website.

“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 St Helena from the Seychelles in 1882. In all likelihood, he is even older than we think,” Guinness World Records said.

Tu’i Malila, the previous oldest chelonian, lived to be at least 188 years old. Captain Cook donated it to the Tonga royal family in 1777, and it remained in their care until its death in 1965.


Jonathan has “come through the winter well,” according to the government of St Helena.

“He grazes well now, but is unaware of food if we simply place it on the ground. The Veterinary Section is still feeding him by hand once a week to boost his calories, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, as he is blind and has no sense of smell,” the government said.

Officials added, “His hearing though is excellent and he loves the company of humans, and responds well to his vet Joe Hollins’ voice as he associates him with a feast.”

Jonathan has spent the majority of his life in the Governor of St Helena’s home, where he lives with three other gigantic tortoises named David, Emma, and Fred.

Although the world has changed in the last 190 years, Jonathan’s interests have not: he enjoys resting, eating, and mating. Cabbage, cucumber, carrot, apple, banana, lettuce hearts, and other seasonal fruits are among his favourites.

Jonathan’s eyesight and sense of smell are failing him, although he is still spotted mating with Emma and Fred on a regular basis. “Animals are often not particularly gender-sensitive!” vet Joe revealed.


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