Meet Jonathan, the 183-Year-Old Tortoise

Caitlin Schneider

At an estimated 183 years old, Jonathan the Tortoise just might be the world’s oldest living land creature. He resides at Plantation House on the island of St. Helena, a small island in the South Atlantic. Nobody's quite sure how he got there, nor how he managed to survive during a time when thousands of others like him ended up on the dinner table.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The Seychelles giant tortoise arrived in 1882 and a photograph from that year shows him to be fully grown—an indicator that Jonathan would have been at least half a century old at that point. Today, he’s blind, with no sense of smell, but has keen hearing abilities.

As one of the few left of his species and a marvel of maturity, Jonathan is now carefully cared for by island veterinarian Joe Hollis. Once a week, the vet feeds him a meal of carrots, lettuce, and whatever else might be on hand, like beans or apples.

“He loves people, actually," Hollis told The Telegraph. "I mean, this is an animal who’s lived across three centuries.”

Tortoises like Jonathan can live to be 250 years old, which means that this not-so-little guy could be around for decades to come.