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onathan the tortoise has just recently passed his 190th birthday, making him the oldest animal currently alive. For the past 140 years, Jonathan has been living on the amazing island of Saint Helena located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The tortoise is so old that not even those who look after it are sure of its history. Especially from 1900 to 1902 when Saint Helen became a camp for prisoners of war.

This species of tortoise is named Aldabra giant tortoise and it originates from the center of Africa or in the Seychelles islands. The tortoises are known to live over 100 years and grow quite big in size. This species has been endangered since the 17th century, but during what is believed to be 1882, a tortoise named Jonathan had been given as a gift to the governor of the island. This is the same island that Napoleon Bonaparte had been exiled to later in his life.

Jonathan in 1942 with Governor Bain-Gray (1941–1946) (Source: SaintHelenisland)

At the time when Jonathan was brought to Saint Helen, he was 50 years old, or at least that is what local records are mentioning. The vet that had been taking care of Jonathan named Joe Hollins believes that this tortoise had hatched back in 1832

“We have a record that he was landed in 1882 fully grown. We are told that fully grown is at least 50 years of age, and so this is how we extrapolate back to a hatching date of 1832 and forward to a current age of 183 (now 190). Life expectancy is 150.” (Quote by Joe Hollins)

Since then, it has become the responsibility of the locals to take care of this majestic creature that is still going strong despite outliving the average human three times. Jonathan is kept on the grounds of an old Plantation House. Scientists have even analyzed Jonathan to come to the conclusion that based on the size he was in the photo from 1902, it is very much plausible that Jonathan was 50 years of age when he had been brought to the island in 1882. Jonathan had been also recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living reptile.

Jonathan the tortoise in 2022 (Source: SaintHelenisland)

tortoises are well known to live for long periods of time and are quite close to the likings of dinosaurs based on their biological features. It is even believed that tortoises are one of the very first descendants of the dinosaurs. This sort of gives a better explanation as to why they have such a long life span. Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals had a much longer life span, not only due to their size but also because of a more balanced eco-system.

If Jonathan was to be brought about 10 years earlier onto the island, he would have had the pleasure to meet Napoleon in person. Just the thought of knowing that this tortoise was alive during the reign of Napoleon and is still alive to this day is incredible. Experts estimate that the tortoise would see at least another 10 years if no health complications arise.

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