Tortoise which is world’s oldest animal marks turning 190 with ‘birthday cake’

The oldest land animal in the world – a tortoise named Jonathan – is celebrating turning 190-years-old.

Born in the early 1800s, the remarkable reptile has also lived longer than any other tortoise ever recorded.

Jonathan has been a resident on the volcanic tropical island of St Helena – a remote British territory in the South Atlantic Ocean – since 1882.

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When he arrived on the island 140 years ago, shell measurements indicated that he was at least 50-years-old so it is possible that he is even older than the landmark birthday he is marking.

During his time on Earth, Jonathan has lived through two World Wars and witnessed the introduction of radios, telephones, TVs, internet, cars and an airport on the island.

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Joe Hollins, a retired St Helena's vet who continues to care for Jonathan, describes him as a "magnificent animal".

He said: "When you think, if he was hatched in 1832 – the Georgian era – my goodness, the changes in the world. The World Wars, the rise and fall of the British Empire, the many governors, kings and queens that have passed, it's quite extraordinary.

"And he's just been here, enjoying himself. I do think he's fabulous actually.

"He's a great animal. And, as a vet, what greater privilege is there than to be looking after the oldest known living land animal in the world?

"I mean, how often does that happen? It is such a privilege to be able to care for this magnificent animal."

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In befitting his status as a local celebrity and the island's longest serving inhabitant by some way, residents are staging three days of birthday festivities for Jonathan, feeding him with his favourite vegetables throughout.

The celebrations began yesterday (Friday, December 2) with posters celebrating the tortoise's life put on display at his Plantation House home, along with a plethora of pictures and messages from people who have met him over the years.

Today, meanwhile, Jonathan can look forward to a big veggie feast, which will be streamed live to all his fans around the world on St Helena Tourism's Facebook page.

Then, on Sunday, the partying will conclude with an open-air market at Plantation House, where an animated video and song about Jonathon's life will also premiere.

He will then be given his birthday cake, made entirely from his favourite healthy foods, while a special stamp will be issued to commemorate the occasion.


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