Looking for a place to take some time off? Why don’t you try St. Helena, which is a volcanic island situated in the South Atlantic Ocean.
Besides the wonderful scenery that will be sure to surprise you, the world’s oldest animal is also situated there. Jonathan, a 187-year-old tortoise, is said to be the oldest land animal now.
Jonathan is so famous that St. Helena listed him as one of its seven wonders, and a portrait of him appears on the island’s five-pence coin.
The tortoise was born in 1832 in Seychelles at the Indian Ocean. Jonathan was then brought to St. Helena Island when he was 50 years old in 1882 as a gift to then-governor William Grey-Wilson.
Throughout his life, he has witnessed the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, and 39 U.S. presidents. He was also already here on earth when light bulb was invented by Thomas Edison in 1878, and the first powered flight was flown by the Wright brothers in 1903.
“He is a grand old gentleman who has seen it all,” Teeny Lucy, the chairperson for the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) told The Dodo in an interview. “He has seen generations of people coming and going.”
Jonathan spends most of his days roaming the gardens in Plantation House, which is the official residence of the governor of St. Helen.
“On mild days, he will sunbathe – his long neck and legs stretched fully out of his shell to absorb heat and transfer it to his core. It’s an odd posture and before now we have had panicked phone calls to say he appeared to have died! On cold winter days, he will dig himself into leaf mould or grass clippings and remain there all day,” veterinarian Joe Hollins told Guinness World Records in an interview.
He has David, Emma and Fred as tortoise companions. Though old and has been going through a lot of medical issues, wherein he is most likely to go fully blind due to the cataracts and may lost all sense of smell, Jonathan is still going strong.
“As befits his age, Jonathan is gentle and enjoys the company of people,” Hollins added. “He also has a fascination with the sounds of tennis when the paddock court is in use.”
Jonahan has beaten his life expectancy of 150 years. He is only a year away from beating the title of Guinness World Records’ oldest chelonian, Tu’I Malila – a 188-year-old pet of the Tonga royal family between 1777 and 1965.