by Khushi Mehra
It was the year 1832 and Jonathan the tortoise was just tiny hatching. The world was a very difficult place back then; the lightbulb was yet to be invented, and cars were still half a century away.
Jonathan, who may be a Seychelles tortoise, lived to ascertain it all. At around 187 years old, he’s now the oldest-known animal within the world and he’s living a soothing life on the remote island of St.Helena within the South Atlantic, where he’s been since the late 1880s.
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 discharge of the Penny Black, the primary postage (1840), the building of the primary skyscraper (1885), and therefore the completion of the Effiel Tower (1887) the latest iron structure.
Other human milestones that have taken place in his long life include the primary photograph of an individual (1838), the primary incandescent light bulb(1878), and therefore the first powered flight (1903), Now the oldest animal within the world among terrestrial animals.
Jonathan has outlived the oldest person ever by around 65 years. The greatest authenticated age for a person may be a “mere” 122 years 144 days, achieved by Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) from France.
Although originating from Seychelles within the Indian Ocean, Jonathan has resided on the remote island of St Helena within the South Atlantic since 1882. When Jonathan was brought to St Helena, he was fully grown.
Based on known data for this species, that would indicate him to be about 50 years at the time (hence his estimated the birth year of 1832 to make him the longest-living animal on land). Jonathan was gifted to the then-governer of the Overseas British territory, William Grey-Wilson (in office1890-97), and he lived at the governer’s residence ever since.
Jonathan’s home is the manicured lawns of “Plantation”, a Georgian mansion built by the East India Company in 1791-92. Today, he shares the ground with three other giant tortoises; Davis, Emma, and Fred. This particular species was once believed to be extinct, but they’re now maybe around 80 globally, consistent with the IUCN’s Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group.
Considering his great age he’s already well beyond his kind’s 150- year average lifespan. Jonathan is in surprisingly good health. He hasn’t escaped completely unscathed, though.
The world’s oldest tortoise is virtually blind due to cataracts and seems to have lost all sense of smell, but retains excellent hearing and a healthy appetite. According to his vet, he still has “a good libido” too, which is an indicator of sound internal health.
We hope Jonathan’s youthful appearance entertains and motivates us all. His existence is proof of the persevering nature of life. Something we all ought to remember and embody in these trying times. We hope you’re channelling some turtle spirit today!
Image Credits:- Outdoor Revival