Celebrating his 190th birthday this year, Jonathan was just certified as the world’s oldest land animal and oldest turtle ever by Guinness World Records. “His official record title is oldest chelonian – a category which encompasses all turtles, terrapins, and tortoises,” Guinness World Records writes. “The previous oldest chelonian was Tu’i Malila, a radiated tortoise that lived to be at least 188. Presented to the royal family of Tonga by Captain Cook c.1777, Tu’i Malila remained in their care until its death in 1965.
“Jonathan is believed to have been born c. 1832, thus making him 190 years old in 2022. Jonathan’s age is an estimation based on the fact that he was fully mature, and hence at least 50 years old, when he arrived in St Helena from the Seychelles in 1882. In all likelihood, he is even older than we think.”
An Aldabra giant tortoise named Adwaita died in March 2006 in India at an estimated age of 255, but Adwaita’s age has not been verified.
Jonathan Was Photographed in 1886
Jonathan is so old that known photos of him span over 136 years. A picture captured by an unknown photographer back in 1886 shows Jonathan with another giant tortoise on the grounds of St. Helena’s Government House.