February 8, 2023

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Jonathan the Turtle celebrates his 190th birthday: NPR

Jonathan the Turtle celebrates his 190th birthday: NPR

Jonathan cools off in the garden of Plantation House, seat of the governor of St. Helena, in October 2017. The world’s oldest tortoise celebrates what is believed to be his 190th birthday this year.

Gianluigi Guercia/AFP via Getty Images


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Gianluigi Guercia/AFP via Getty Images

Jonathan cools off in the garden of Plantation House, seat of the governor of St. Helena, in October 2017. The world’s oldest tortoise celebrates what is believed to be his 190th birthday this year.

Gianluigi Guercia/AFP via Getty Images

He has lived through two world wars, eight British monarchs and 40 American presidents. His life witnessed the first telephone call (1876), the first skyscraper (1885), the first powered flight (1903), and the first man to walk on the moon (1969).

was alive when the first portrait of a person was taken (1838); Now it is poses for selfies With loving tourists. He was born before the postage stamp was created (1840), and appears on it now.

It’s Jonathan, the oldest tortoise in the world. He is celebrating his 190th birthday.

Jonathan celebrated the occasion with a three-day birthday party over the weekend at his home in the South Atlantic island and British territory of St. Helena, where he’d spent most of his long life (except for the first 50 years or so).

Jonathan is believed to have been born in 1832, but it is likely that he was older. for him Estimated age It is based on the fact that it was fully ripe when it was brought to Saint Helena from the Seychelles in 1882 as a gift to its then governor.

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And an old photo of a full-grown Jonathan grazing the lawn at the governor’s residence — called Plantation House — sometime between 1882 and 1886 supports that theory, according to Guinness World Records. He has lived there ever since, and is currently enjoying the company of three giant tortoises named David, Emma, ​​and Fred.

Guinness World Records announced that Jonathan is The oldest cheloni in the world — a category that includes turtles, tortoises, and birds — in January, three years after he was named The oldest surviving land animal.

Jonathan is blind and has no sense of smell, but his hearing is remarkable and he loves the company of humans, the St. Helena government told the registrar at the start of 2022.

Jonathan’s favorite foods include cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, apples, bananas and hearts of lettuce. His vet, Joe Hollins, described his primary interests as sleeping (either in the sun or under grass clippings, depending on the temperature), eating and mating.

“Despite his age, Jonathan still has a good libido and is frequently seen mating with Emma and occasionally Fred – often animals not particularly sexually sensitive!” Hollins said.

In fact, Jonathan has been hailed as a gay icon for quite some time. In 2017, caregivers discovered during a medical procedure that Frederica, his companion of nearly three decades, had been Not actually a female As has been believed since the two were first introduced in 1991 – which explains Fred’s name, and their lack of offspring.

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It’s just one interesting aspect of Jonathan’s wonderful life (another aspect is that he had… his first bath Several years ago, at the ripe age of 184), which far exceeded typical expectations of what Hollins says is 150.

“Although we are aware of the responsibility and that he will die one day of course, I think we have greatly enhanced his life expectancy,” he said. Guinness in 2019. “Like any famous person, we made plans in advance for his death, but hopefully we haven’t put them into practice yet.”

Jonathan’s birthday party is the culmination of a festive year

While Jonathan’s exact date of birth is unknown, it was bestowed upon by Governor Nigel Phillips official birthday on December 4, 1832, earlier in the year and timing the big party to coincide with the famous annual Christmas market at Plantation House.

People can visit privately Jonathan stall in the market Watch an animated video about his life, watch the winners of an art competition in his honor and purchase Jonathan-themed stamps and souvenirs, among other perks.

And the birthday boy had a special salad cake that contained some of his favorite foods, like tomatoes and bananas.

This weekend’s festivities weren’t the only opportunity for fans to wish Jonathan well. Indeed Saint Helena They were celebrating (Some might say coincidentally celebrate) His birthday all year round.

Local art and souvenir competitions were held; Limited edition photos and prints are sold out Stamps; He gave certificates to his visitors bearing the first-ever photo of his footprint and created group photo and video clips celebrating Jonathan’s life – including “everything he lived, the people he came into contact with and DNA research that can change our understanding of the aging process and cancer.” He is also depicted on the reverse of the island’s 5p coin.

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Helena’s tourism website says it’s also bidding for a national holiday in Jonathan’s honor.

It is an honor befitting a local celebrity and attraction, who have met many notable visitors over the years, including the late Queen Elizabeth when she was still a princess in 1947.

Visitors today can still see Jonathan wandering the Plantation House grounds, although he has implemented some restrictions after what Hollins describes as “mobbing and inappropriate behavior on cruise ship tours.”

Teeny Lucy, Jonathan’s caretaker, told L.L.C Canadian Broadcasting Company. That there is a strict policy of not doing anything that causes him undue stress — so no more VIP kids posing on his shell for pictures, for example.

“Turtles,” she said, “don’t move so fast, they think about everything. When I go up, it definitely reduces the anxiety you might feel, and it’s a slower pace for everything.” “He’s a charming old man. He really is.”