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  • Alexandra Desbiens

The world’s oldest living land animal

The world’s oldest known living land animal at 190 years old is Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa). He is believed to have hatched in the 1830’s in the Seychelles. Jonathan arrived in St Helena in 1882 and was already fully grown – according to specialists he must have been at least 50 years old at that point. His vet states that he suspects Jonathan is actually even older than 190 years. There is an old photograph from the 1980s which shows Jonathan in St Helena.


St. Helena island is a tiny volcanic British territory that lies more than a thousand miles off the coast of Africa in the South Atlantic Ocean. Here, Jonathan lives on the grounds of the Plantation House, the official residence of the governor. Jonathan lives with three other giant tortoises, David, Emma and Frederica. The St. Helena five-pence coin has Jonathan portrayed on it.

Before Jonathan, the Guinness World Record belonged to a tortoise called Tu'i Malila who lived in Tonga for 188 years. Tu'i Malila was given to the Royal Tongan family as a gift in 1777 and passed away in 1965. Since then, Jonathan has carried that title.

In 2006, a male Aldabra giant tortoise, named Adwaita died at the Zoological garden of Kolkata in India. He was at least 150 years old but estimated to have lived 255 years, however, this could not be proven.

Some other animals who have reached record ages:

The oldest known bird in the world was an Australian sulphur-crested cockatoo called Cocky Bennett, who lived to the age of 120.

Dakshayani, a female Asian elephant was 88 or 89 years old when she died.

The oldest living horse on record, Ol' Billy, was allegedly born in the year 1760 in London, England. Bill died in 1822 at the age of 62 years.

Creme Puff, a cat, was born August 3, 1967, and died three days after her 38th birthday on August 6, 2005

A greater flamingo named Greater died at a Zoo in January 2014 at the age of at least 83.

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