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Meet The Oldest Living, Blind, Gay, Polygamous Tortoise

Jonathan - oldest living land animal
Image Credit: Luke McKernan - Jonathan, CC BY-SA 2.0,
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Jonathan the tortoise is famous for being the oldest living land animal at 191 years old. He’s even older than the invention of lightbulbs or telephones. This iconic creature has been alive through the US Civil War, the Soviet Union’s rise and fall, two world wars, and countless other events.

Who is Jonathan, The Oldest Living Tortoise?

oldest living tortoise
Jonathan (left) with another giant tortoise in 1886. Image Credit: Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan is the oldest living Chelonian, which is a group name given to reptiles. They’re now more commonly known as terrapins, turtles, and tortoises. According to expert estimation, this gentle was likely born in 1832, meaning he will celebrate his 192nd birthday this year.

Due to his age and legacy, he has become a national treasure in St. Helena, where he’s been living since 1882. The island is widely known for being Napoleon Bonaparte’s last residence, who died after the Battle of Waterloo. 

His age was estimated to be fully grown when Jonathan arrived on the island in 1882, which, for tortoises, is 50 years old. According to the official site of St. Helena, Jonathan was gifted to St. Helena’s governor from Seychelles. 

He And His Love Life 

Tortoise Jonathan at Plantation House St Helena March 2020. Image Credit: Kevstan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Even at age 191, the tortoise is living his full life. 

in the ’80s, Jonathan’s behavior became increasingly erratic and irritating; that is, until he found a partner.

Jonathan found love with another tortoise, named Frederika, and they have been partners since the early ’90s. In 2017, St. Helena officials revealed that Frederika was actually Frederik, another male tortoise.

Jonathan is, however, not monogamous, and also has another partner, Emma. Luckily, his vet has confirmed that he still has a good libido, but has yielded no offspring. 

Update on Jonathan’s Health 

jonathan the tortoise
Joe Hollins, Jonathan’s vet, feeding Jonathan at the St Helena Plantation House. Image Credit: Joe Hollins, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

As for his health, Johnathan has lost both his sense of smell and eyesight. The cause is cataracts, which are cloudy and foggy eye lenses that lead to partial or complete blindness. Despite this, the tortoise has a good appetite and movements. Once a week, he requires to be hand-fed, including fruits and vegetables.

Thanks to his small but dedicated team, they take care of his calories, maintain his metabolism, and keep him healthy. He particularly likes to eat carrots, bananas, cabbage, and apples. 

He spent his days roaming free in the governor’s house. Joe Hollins, Jonathan’s vet, shared that his health is all good and indicates that he will likely reach 200.


Jonathan the tortoise at Plantation House. Image Credit: Kevstan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan has proven there is no age limitation on how to live a full life. Despite being 191 years old and without his sense of smell and sight, Jonathan is thriving on the island. He is loved from across the globe. He has successfully achieved iconic status on St. Helena island.

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