Meet Jonathan, The Oldest Tortoise On Earth With Age Nearing 180

Tortoises are often known for their higher life expectancies and its ability to shelve itself inside when some harmful incidents occur. Their life expectancy is three times that of humans, making them one of the unique creatures in the world. The longest  living giant tortoise presently is Jonathan living on a small island in the Atlantic ocean who has seen two world wars, the Great Depression, the deadly Spanish flu and now the coronavirus and yet continues to thrive at the island.

Who Is Jonathan?

A Seychelles giant Tortoise, Jonathan lives on the grounds of Plantation House, the official residence of the governor of St Helena and is taken care of by the authorities there. The tortoise’s age was estimated so because records say he was ‘fully mature’ when brought to Saint Helena in 1882. ‘Fully mature’ means at least 50 years old and thus reaffirms that Jonathan was definitely not born later than 1832.



Jonathan is also featured in the Guinness Book of Record. Born circa 1832, the tortoise is even older than the Eiffel Tower, which was completed in 1887. Tortoise of Jonathan’s species, which are a sub species of the Aldabra giant Tortoise were once thought to have been extinct but have been recorded to about 80 in numbers globally.

What Makes Tortoise Live So Long?

A recent study looked at substances that lead to cell damage and death and also took into account cells of turtle species, including from a giant tortoise, just like Jonathan. It revealed that these animals have the ability to protect themselves from the long-term effects of cell damage by quickly killing off damaged cells, using a process called apoptosis, thus increasing their life expectancy.


Jonathan at st Helena’s centre enjoying with visitors

Although Jonathan has surpassed his usual average lifespan of 150 years, his veterinarian says the gentle animal is still very healthy, apart from some age-related issues. He is almost blind in eyes due to cataracts and may have lost all sense of smell, but is still with very good hearing skills.


It’s truly a wonder of nature that such creatures do exist and we are fortunate enough to witness such beauty which nature has thrown upon us. However several creatures are endangered so far but Jonathan is clearly lucky enough to survive the dreadly human greed.