The world’s oldest turtle has turned 190 years old. His name is Jonathan and he lives on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. “From the rise to the fall of the British Empire to the world wars, when you think about how much has happened in the world since it was born in 1832, it’s impressive,” noted the island’s veterinarian, Joe Hollins.
Jonathan, who entered the Guiness Book of Records this year, turns out to be the longest-lived turtle ever surveyed. The animal has lived on St. Helena since 1882, and his age, however, is the result of an assessment. A photo taken upon its arrival shows that at that time the turtle was already at least 50 years old. On the island, which is British overseas territory, Jonathan has seen 35 governors paraded, but not Napoleon, who died in 1821.
He now lives in the governor’s residence along with David, Emma and Fred, much younger turtles. “I regularly hear him on the lawn playing and frolicking with Emma. But I have to watch them when they interact because the turtles can turn over on their backs and never get up again,” Governor Lisa Phillips had explained in 2017.
St. Helena residents have organized three days of festivities starting today at the governor’s home, who will personally give Jonathan his favorite legumes tomorrow. Then on Sunday, the animal will also be entitled to a birthday cake. A special stamp has been issued to celebrate the most famous inhabitant of this island of 4,500 souls. But Jonathan already appears on 5-cent coins and immigration stamps.