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Meet Jonathan, the World’s Oldest-Known Animal

Jonathan the tortoise was a little hatchling when the year was 1832.

Back then, the world was a completely different place; the lighting had not yet been conceived, and automobiles were still a half-century away.

Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, however, survived to witness it all. He’s the world’s oldest known mammal, estimated to be approximately 189 years old, and he’s been lounging on the secluded island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic since the late 1880s.


One of his primary caregivers is Teeny Lucy, the local SPCA’s chairman. Jonathan resides on the verdant grounds of the ancient governor’s palace, where Lucy and others bring him fresh vegetables throughout the week.

In 2019, Lucy told The Dodo, “Jonathan is an icon here.” “He’s a great old gentleman who’s seen everything.” He arrived in St. Helena as an adult in 1882 and has witnessed generations of people come and depart.”


Many people have been amazed by Jonathan’s longevity, Lucy added. He is the oldest of his three friends at the home, who are all gigantic tortoises; his pal, 82-year-old David, is the second-oldest tortoise.

Jonathan is probably completely blind, although he manages to get around rather effectively. He usually spends his days sunbathing, eating on grass, and relaxing with his tortoise pals. He lives a relatively peaceful existence for someone of his stature; his likeness even appears on the reverse of the little island’s five penny currency.


“As the world’s oldest land mammal, he has practically regal status here,” Lucy explained. “As long as people walk gently around him, he is respectable and interacts in a kind manner.” He is adored by all of us.”

Jonathan is unquestionably a joyful and outgoing guy, but he began experiencing physical concerns a few years ago. Fortunately, a simple diet modification was all it needed, and he’s now in terrific health and still going strong, according to Lucy.


“A few years ago, we began feeding Jonathan on a weekly basis to complement his grass diet and improve his nutrition,” she explained. “This was because the island vet saw his beak (with which he scythes grass) was fragile and crumbly, as well as the fact that he was too chilly and had lost weight. Everything has now turned around, and he is as fit as a fiddle!”

Jonathan has had a lot of different caregivers over the years, and it’s evident that he likes them all the same – as long as they bring him his favorite treats, of course.