Here’s a riddle: what has survived two world wars, the Great Depression, and 187 years of history? Jonathan the tortoise, of course! This creature is currently the oldest known animal on earth, and he’s living a pretty swell life. This is the incredible story of what brought Jonathan the 187-year-old tortoise to where he is today.
Surpassing All Expectations
Back in 1832, a little tortoise named Jonathan was born. At the time, no one knew the hatchling would make history, though tortoises are known to have significant lifespans in the animal kingdom. They have the average potential to live from between 80 to 120 years in the wild. However, Jonathan seemed to take this long lifespan as a challenge.
In 2019, Jonathan turned 187, making him the oldest creature currently on the face of the earth. While he’s just shy of the tortoise lifespan record, held by 189-year-old T’ui Malila, he’s lived through decades of history. Across the course of his lifespan, he’s witnessed the creation of the lightbulb, the formation of new countries, and dozens of new generations of people altering the world. Yet his life has been pretty simple since the late 1800s.
Jonathan’s Luxurious Lifestyle
While Jonathan was living on Seychelles for most of his early life, he got a sweet upgrade of habitat in the late 1800s. In 1882, he was claimed by the British overseas government of Saint Helena and relocated to the remote South Atlantic island. The Governor of Saint Helena in the 1930s, Sir Spencer Davis, was the one who gave Jonathan his name. Ever since 1882, he lived a luxurious yet simple life.
The local SPCA of Saint Helena is responsible for feeding and caring for Jonathan. He gets no shortage of attention. Teeny Lucy, the SPCA representative in charge of his care, can vouch for his luxury lifestyle. Jonathan gets the royal treatment at the Governor’s own mansion, called Plantation House, where he’s fed copious amounts of veggies. These days, despite his chill life, he’s also a major celebrity.
His Celebrity Status
Across the years, Jonathan has become a sensation. He got to pose with the Queen’s Baton ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2014. He has also been featured on BBC Radio. In 2019, Jonathan was just two years shy of the Guinness World Record for world’s oldest tortoise. He’s well on his way to it. His face is even featured on the Saint Helena five pence coin!
Around Saint Helena, he has made friends with other tortoises and the citizens of the island. His best mate, an 80-year-old tortoise named David, keeps him company. He also allows people to entertain him, though he prefers when they come bearing food! Despite a loss of sight and other health issues, Jonathan’s humans are taking great care of him. The Islanders are hoping to continue to care for Jonathan for many more years into the future.
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