Meet Jonathan, the Oldest Terrestrial Animal in the World

oldest animal jonathan tortoise

At 189 years old, Jonathan, who resides on the tiny Atlantic island of St. Helena, is the oldest known living terrestrial animal in the world. The giant tortoise was brought to the island from the Seychelles in 1882, along with three other tortoises at about 50 years of age.

His age is estimated based on the fact that he was ‘fully mature’ when brought to St. Helena in 1882. ‘Fully mature’ means at least 50 years old, giving him a hatching date no later than 1832. So this means that when the photo below was taken, Jonathan was at least 182 years of age.

jonathan tortoise world oldest animals
Jonathan in 2014. Photo by David Stanley

On Saturday 19 March 2016, an historic event took place in the grounds of Plantation House, St Helena Island. Jonathan was washed for the first time in recorded history by vet Dr Joe Hollins. Joe explained that the reason for bathing Jonathan came after he cleaned – and transformed – the shell of one of the female tortoises at Plantation House.


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