Jonathan, an Aldabra giant tortoise (Geochelone gigantea) who also happens to be the world’s oldest land animal, celebrated his 190th birthday at his home in Saint Helena.
Jonathan, an Aldabra giant tortoise (Geochelone gigantea) who also happens to be the world’s oldest land animal, celebrated his 190th birthday at his home in Saint Helena, A British territory off the coast of Angola and Namibia. The giant tortoise has lived through both World War I and World War II, seven British monarchs and 39 U.S. presidents.
According to CBS News, Saint Helena held a birthday bash for the giant tortoise, feeding him a cake of his favorite vegetables. The tortoise, who arrived on Saint Helena from the Seychelles in 1882, is probably best known, in addition to his age, as the tortoise who spent more than 30 years trying to mate with Frederica, an Aldabra tortoise who was presumed to be a female until their keepers discovered that Frederica was actually a Frederic. Jonathan has been completely blind due to cataracts and has also lost his sense of smell.
His birth year is set at 1832, but he wasn’t found until 1882 when he was sent to Saint Helena already a fully grown adult. Other notable events that have transpired during Jonathan’s lifetime include the first telephone call in 1876, the invention of the computer, the cure for polio, the first man in flight in 1903 with the Wright brother’s airplane, and Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon.
Aldabra Tortoise Information
Aldabra tortoises are so named because of where they are found in the wild, the Aldabran Atoll off the coast of the Seychelles. The giant tortoises can weigh up to 500 pounds, making them one of the biggest tortoises in the world. The Galapagos tortoise is bigger. Mostly herbivores, the Aldabra tortoise feeds on grasses, leaves, plants, stems and weeds.
The tortoises were once found on most of the islands in the Indian Ocean. They were hunted for their meat and disappeared from Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion islands until 1900, when Charles Darwin offered to pay half the atoll’s lease to anyone who could ensure that the exploitation of the reptile was stopped. Aldabra Island has been managed by the Seychelles Islands Foundation since 1981 as a special reserve. It has been completely protected under the Seychelles National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act, and the giant tortoises have been monitored every month for the past 20 years.