He was born shortly after Napoleon died, and is now officially the oldest known living animal on the planet.
Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise is celebrating his 190th birthday – more or less – on Saint Helena in the far south Atlantic, where the defeated French emperor died in exile in 1821.
The Jonathan, based on shell measurements, is believed to have been hatched around 1832, and brought from the Seychelles to Britain’s overseas territory 50 years later.
He lives in a comfortable retirement at Plantation House, the official residence of the Governor of St. Helena, where his birthday is being marked with events throughout the weekend, including the release of a special postage stamp.
The celebration climaxes on Sunday with a “birthday cake” made from Jonathan’s favorite foods.
According to his handlers interviewed by AFP in 2017, he is particularly partial to carrots, lettuce, cucumber, apples and pears.
Despite his advanced years, he is also partial to a female turtle named Emma, who is only in her 50s.
Then-governor Lisa Phillips said, “He still enjoys women and I hear him quite regularly in the paddock with Emma.”
“I have to keep an eye on him while he’s doing this — it wasn’t in the job description when I became governor.”
Earlier this year, Jonathan was awarded the Guinness World Records title as the world’s oldest living land animal, and this month was also named the oldest living tortoise ever.
“When you think about it, if he had been hatched in 1832 — the Georgian era — my goodness, change the world,” said Joe Hollins, a retired veterinarian who is Jonathan’s main caregiver today.
“The world wars, the rise and fall of the British Empire, the many governors, kings and queens that have passed away, it’s quite extraordinary,” he said.
“And he’s here now, enjoying himself.”
While they hope for many more years, St. Helena officials have already planned the venerable Chelonian’s final demise: Her shell will be preserved for posterity.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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