Guinness World Records Names 190-Year-Old Johnathan the Oldest Tortoise Ever

Already the oldest living land animal, Johnathan is believed to have been born in 1832

jonathan 190 year old tortoise
Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images

Getting another year older can sometimes feel like an unwelcome event, but for Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise, this year's birthday is monumental. The record-breaking mammalwho is believed to have been born in 1832will turn 190 this year, making him the oldest tortoise ever. Already the oldest living land animal, this recent milestone is another Guinness World Record win for Jonathan.

According to Guinness World Records, Johnathan's official record title is oldest chelonian, a category that encompasses all turtles, terrapins, and tortoises. The previous record holder was Tu'i Malila, a radiated tortoise who lived to be at least 188 until its death in 1965.

Jonathan currently lives on St. Helena, an island in the South Atlantic Ocean, where he arrived from the Seychelles in 1882 at 50-years-old. "He is a local icon, symbolic of persistence in the face of change," Joe Hollins, Jonathan's veterinarian, told Guinness World Records. An uncovered photograph dated between 1882 and 1886 shows Johnathan fully grown, which indicates he was at least 50-years-old when it was taken, so he could be even older than 190.

In his old age, Johnathan is blind and can't smell, but according to an update from the St. Helena Government, he still grazes well on the grounds where he lives with fellow giant tortoises David, Emma and Fred. The veterinary section of St. Helena feeds Johnathan by hand to boost his calories, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Among his favorite foods are cabbage, cucumber, carrot, apple and other seasonal fruits. "He loves banana, but it tends to gum up his mouth. Lettuce hearts, though not very nutritious, are a favorite," Hollins says.

Despite some of his weakened senses, the update revealed that Johnathan's hearing is excellent and he "loves the company of humans, and responds well to his vet Joe Hollins' voice as he associates him with a feast."

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