World’s oldest tortoise celebrates its 190th birthday
Jonathan, a huge tortoise from Seychelles given to Saint Helena in 1882, is also the oldest known living land animal.
Jonathan, the Seychelles big tortoise, is set to celebrate his 190th birthday with a three-day feast this weekend.
The big tortoise has been living on Saint Helena since 1882 when he arrived as a gift to the governor of the small south Atlantic island.
He is no stranger to fame, having won Guinness World Records awards for being the oldest known living land animal and the oldest chelonian - an order that includes tortoises, turtles, and terrapins - ever recorded.
Jonathan is also a local celebrity: in addition to being a popular attraction, he has appeared on the reverse of the local five-pence coin. He has long been wrinkled, but he is also blind from cataracts and has lost his sense of smell. Although his exact birth date is unknown, it is believed he was born in about 1832.
But it wasn't until November of this year that Nigel Phillips, the governor of the British foreign colony, gave him an official birthdate, December 4, 1832.
"Jonathan's age is an estimate based on the fact that he was completely adult, and hence at least 50 years old, when he landed in Saint Helena from Seychelles in 1882," as per Guinness World Records. He is almost certainly older than we assume."
Jonathan was a child when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, and he has lately experienced the birth of the technology age.
However, Jonathan did not meet Saint Helena's most famous resident: French general Napoleon Bonaparte, who arrived in 1815 and died there six years later.
The three-day celebration, which will bring together residents from across the island, will begin on Friday at the governor's house, with highlights including a tortoise-friendly "birthday cake" and an animated video about his life.
He'll also get some nibbles and a talk with the governor and his wife, Emma, while attendees will get a special diploma, be able to buy Jonathan-related stamps, and see the winners of an art competition created to honor the famous reptile.