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Meet 190-year-old Jonathan, the oldest tortoise to ever live

Jonathan is estimated to be 190 years old.
Jonathan is estimated to be 190 years old.(Mathias Falcone via CNN Newsource)
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 12:34 PM CST
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(Gray News) - At nearly 200 years old, the Guinness Book of World Records has named Jonathan the tortoise the oldest one to ever live.

No one knows exactly how old Jonathan is, but experts believe he was born around 1832, thus making him 190 years old in 2022.

The Guinness Book of World Records has named Jonathan the tortoise the oldest one to ever live.
The Guinness Book of World Records has named Jonathan the tortoise the oldest one to ever live.(Mathias Falcone via CNN Newsource)

He was given to Sir William Grey Wilson, a politician, in 1882. Jonathan was brought from the Seychelles to the remote island of Saint Helena, where Wilson later became governor. He was fully mature at that time, meaning he was already at least 50 years old.

“In all likelihood, he is even older than we think,” the Guinness Book of World Records writes.

His official world record title is oldest chelonian – a category which encompasses all turtles, terrapins and tortoises. The previous record holder was Tu’i Malila, a tortoise that lived to be at least 188.

Jonathan (left) c.1882-86, on the grounds of Plantation House, St Helena.
Jonathan (left) c.1882-86, on the grounds of Plantation House, St Helena.(Mathias Falcone via CNN Newsource)

Photographs from between 1882 and 1886 show a full-grown Jonathan grazing in the governor’s garden.

Jonathan has lived through some major human milestones, including the first photograph taken of a person in 1838 and the invention of the lightbulb in 1878.

Today, Jonathan is fed foods like cabbage, cucumber and carrots by hand because he has lost his vision and sense of smell. But veterinarians say he can still hear and remains “spry.”

Jonathan was brought from the Seychelles to the remote island of Saint Helena in 1882. He was...
Jonathan was brought from the Seychelles to the remote island of Saint Helena in 1882. He was fully mature at that time, meaning he was already at least 50 years old.(Mathias Falcone via CNN Newsource)

Though nearly 200 years old, Jonathan still mates with fellow tortoises Emma and Fred. His veterinarian Joe Hollins says this type of pansexual behavior isn’t uncommon in the animal kingdom.

Keep on keepin’ on, Jonathan.

Copyright 2022 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. CNN Newsource contributed to this report.