It was born shortly after the death of Napoleon and is now the oldest living land animal on the planet. Jonathan the Turtle is about 190 years old on St. Helena, where the French Emperor died in exile in 1821.
Based on his carapace measurements, experts believe Jonathan was born around 1832 and that five decades later he was transported to remote British lands in the South Atlantic, from the Seychelles, where he grew up.
But his age is only an estimate: a photograph taken shortly after his arrival on St. Helena in 1882 shows that he was at least 50, but certainly older.
Now, the turtle is living a comfortable retirement life at the official residence of the Governor of St. Helena, where his birthday will be celebrated all weekend with events including the release of a special stamp.
His image already appears on 5-cent coins and stamps from the Immigration Agency on this island of 4,500 residents.
The festivities culminate on Sunday with a “birthday cake” made from Jonathan’s favorite foods. He especially likes carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, apples and pears, according to his handlers interviewed by AFP in 2017.
Although he is old and has lost his sight and smell, though he keeps his hearing intact, he is courted by a female tortoise named Emma, a young woman of about 50 years of age.
“I regularly hear him playing with Emma in the garden. But I have to watch them when they go to work because tortoises can turn their backs and never get up. That wasn’t in my job description!” Laughs, then-governor, Lisa Phillips.
Earlier this year, Jonathan took home the V.I.T Guinness Book of Records One of the oldest land animals in the world, it was also named this month as the oldest tortoise in the world.
“If you thought he was born in 1832… God, the world has changed!” exclaims Joe Hollins, a retired vet who is now Jonathan’s primary caregiver.
“The world wars, the rise and fall of the British Empire, the rulers and kings and queens that followed… It’s extraordinary!” , he says.
Although they expect it to last for many years to come, the authorities of St. Helena are already making plans for the eventual demise of the Venerable Chelonian: her armor will be preserved for posterity.
Read below: The story of Jonathan, a 186-year-old tortoise who is tired of living
“Devoted food specialist. General alcohol fanatic. Amateur explorer. Infuriatingly humble social media scholar. Analyst.”