Jonathan, the oldest turtle in the world, turns 190!

Jonathan, the world's oldest turtle, turns 190!


Jonathan, the oldest turtle in the world, celebrates his 190th birthday on the island of Saint Helena, a British territory in the Atlantic Ocean where the inhabitants are celebrating his birthday from Friday.

“When you think about it, if it hatched in 1832 – Georgian times – my god, how much has changed in the world” since, muses Joe Hollins, the island’s retired veterinarian who s takes care of the turtle.

“The world wars, the rise and fall of the British Empire, the governors, kings and queens that have come and gone, it's quite extraordinary!”, he enumerates.

At at least 190 years old, Jonathan is the oldest turtle ever recorded and the oldest known living land animal. It entered the Guinness Book of Records at the start of the year.

The animal has lived on Saint Helena since 1882 and its age is only an estimate. A photo taken upon his arrival on the island shows that he was already at least 50 years old at the time, but he is surely older.

The animal has seen 35 governors pass through this British overseas territory, but missed Napoleon, who was exiled to the island from 1815 to 1821. 

He now lives in the governor's residence alongside David, Emma and Fred, much younger turtles.

“I regularly hear him on the lawn frolicking with Emma. But I have to watch them when they go into action because turtles can roll over on their backs and not get up. It was not in my job description!”, had assured AFP in 2017 the governor at the time, Lisa Phillips.

To celebrate the birthday, the inhabitants of Saint Helena organized from Friday three days of celebrations at the governor of the island, who will feed him on Saturday with his favorite vegetables.

And Sunday, Jonathan – blind, without smell, but hearing intact – will be entitled to a birthday cake.

A special stamp has been created to celebrate the most famous inhabitant of this island of 4500 souls. It already appears on 5 cent coins and immigration stamps.