A tortoise named Jonathan is believed to be the world’s oldest known living land creature and resides at an old plantation house in St. Helena. This village is located on one of the British Isle Territories out in the South Atlantic and has been home to the old tortoise since around 1882. Jonathan is just one part of the amazing world of animals which surround everyone on planet Earth.
There are so many striking, beautiful and wonderful creatures that cover the entire world. Several of them are able to flabbergast both scientists and the regular lay-person as well, especially when they happen to be this one such tortoise which probably started its life during the first part of the 19th century. The large home where Jonathan lives at St. Helena is the official residence of the British Territories Governor Mark Capes.
On this island, the tour guide and Jonathan’s chief caregiver, who is also a veterinarian, strikes against a huge bowl made out of metal. This causes Jonathan, Fredrika and Myrtle to approach closer. There are two other huge tortoises which decide to stay hidden in the shadows. It is explained that Jonathan, being the oldest of the five, is almost sightless from cataracts and does not have any sense of sense, yet he is able to hear very well. With him being the age of 182, that is an accomplishment in itself.
Jonathan comes from the rare tortoise breed known as Seychelles Giants. His fellow tortoises come from the Aldabra Island, which is located in the Indian Ocean. Aldabra Giants are believed to be numbered around the 100,000 mark, but there only just one tiny breeding population left of the Seychelles tortoises.
St Helena came into existence as a ferocious volcano, along with both Tristan du Cunha and Ascension in the Southern Atlantic. It is known for its seclusion and very closed off society. Back in the 17th century there was numerous slave trade victims who ended up dying on the sandy shores of St Helena. Napoleon also was put into exile there. Its residents, which are called Saints, all share this multifaceted past, and have the varied ethnic traits of Europeans, Africans, Chinese and Americans. It is really not known for sure just how Jonathan arrived in St. Helena in the first place.
During the 19th century, there were numerous ships traveling around that held over hundreds of easily stackable tortoises. In the Galapagos Islands only, there were believed to have been over 200,000 tortoises which had been trapped, killed and consumed during this time period. Jonathan was extremely lucky to have escaped such a grim fate.
He has lived through the passing of 33 different British Territory governors and no one wants to lose Jonathan while they are in the government seat. Mr. Capes definitely desires to see that Jonathan is treated well, given much respect, and all the care and attention he deserves he receives. One thing he enjoys tremendously is having his long neck rubbed. He is able to extend his head from out of his shell a decent length.
The tortoise makes a loud snapping sound in response for his food. He dines mostly on carrots, cabbage and his favorite which are bananas. He makes the loud noises because he has trouble in finding his food with his eye and nose troubles. He also enjoys scrapes at blades of grass with his horny beak. It is made out of keratin, just like human nails are.
The Seychelles species can reach up to weights of over 650 lbs. and may grow to be over four feet in length. Jonathan’s life has not over covered the 30+ British governors, but has also extended through the passing of eight British monarchs who reach from George IV down to Elizabeth II and also over 50 British prime ministers. If his age is truly correct and he is actually age 182, than that would mean he was around 10 years too young to have been able to meet Napoleon, who passed away in the year 1821
Because of his advancing age, Jonathan was starting to suffer from malnutrition. This was causing his beak to start to soften up and become blunt, which in turn, added to his feeding problems. He was also having problems with his head and neck. He was stuck in a Catch-22 of sorts.
However, now his caregivers have come up with a new feeding system. Jonathan is delivered a full bucket of fresh vegetables and fruit each weekend as extra nutrition along with his regular meals. This added dietary boost has given Jonathan’s skin a new plump feel and it is soft.
One thing that is unfortunate about Jonathan’s mating trysts is that none of them ever produced any young tortoises. So it is fairly certain that he is the last of his line. Because of this, and even though giant tortoises from his species can survive for 250 years, the community of St. Helena has already set up a rough draft of his obituary for when he does finally pass away. The island wants everything to go smoothly when his death occurs.
There will no such thing as stuffing the old animal because everyone feels that would be very outdated and also morbid to do. Instead his shell will be well-preserved and will be put up on display in St Helena for everyone to see. The Saints also want to start a monetary fund in order to be able to create a true to life bronze statue of him. When the giant tortoise passes away, Jonathan will be deeply mourned by both friends and devotees on St. Helena and all over the entire world. The tortoise named Jonathan is believed to be the world’s oldest known living land creature.
By Kimberly Ruble