Did you know? The oldest terrestrial animal was a tortoise named Jonathan. He was born in 1832, five years prior to the coronation of Queen Victoria in England. He died at the age of 189.
He, in his lifetime, lived through two World Wars, the Russian Revolution, seven monarchs on the British throne, and 39 US presidents. Jonathan originated from the Indian Ocean in Seychelles, and he has resided on the remote island of St Helena in the South Atlantic since 1882.
St. Helena is best known as the final resting place of the French Monarch Napoleon Bonaparte. However, Jonathan didn’t meet Napolean as the former died more than six decades before the arrival of this record-breaking reptile. Jonathan was fully grown when he was brought to St. Helena. Jonathan was gifted to the then-governor of the Overseas British territory, William Grey-Wilson (in office 1890–97), and he has lived at the governor’s residence ever since.
However, for a long time, Jonathan was believed to be an Aldabran tortoise from the Aldabra Atoll, which forms part of the Seychelles archipelago. But on closer inspection, he had raised the distinct possibility that he could be a much-rarer Seychelles giant tortoise.
His birth year also predates the release of the Penny Black, the first postage stamp (1840), the building of the first skyscraper (1885), and the completion of the Eiffel Tower (1887) – the tallest iron structure.
During the time of Jonathan’s existence, along with the various wars and rise and fall of kingdoms, he has also witnessed various other human milestones such as the first photograph of a person (1838), the first incandescent light bulb (1878), and the first powered flight (1903).