St Helena 190 year old breaks Tonga’s world record for oldest tortoise alive  

    A 190-year-old tortoise from Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean is now confirmed as the world’s oldest turtle by Guinness World Records (GWR).

    In 1953, during Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Tour of Tonga, Tu’i Malila was shown to the monarch at the time having been an icon for the royal family. The above picture shows Queen Elizabeth II meeting the 176-year-old tortoise

    Jonathan is expected to celebrate his 190th birthday this year making “him the oldest-known land animal alive today”, GWR said.

    “His official record title is oldest chelonian – a category which encompasses all turtles, terrapins and tortoises”, it said.

    Jonathan has “come through the winter well”, as per an update from the St Helena Government. “He grazes well now, but is unaware of food if we simply place it on the ground.”

    “The Veterinary Section is still feeding him by hand once a week to boost his calories, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, as he is blind and has no sense of smell.”

    “His hearing though is excellent and he loves the company of humans, and responds well to his vet Joe Hollins’ voice as he associates him with a feast.”

    Jonathan is believed to have been born in 1832.

    “Jonathan age is an estimation based on the fact that he was fully mature, and hence at least 50 years old, when he arrived in St Helena from the Seychelles in 1882.

    Jonathan the tortoise pictured in February 2019

    In all likelihood, he is even older than we think”.

    Tu’i Malila

    The previous oldest living tortoise recognized by GWR was Tonga’s Tu’i Malila, a radiated tortoise that reached at least 188 years old.

    “She was owned by the royal family of Tonga between 1777 and 1965, and had been presented to them by British explorer Captain James Cook during his third – and final – Pacific voyage (1776–80)”.

    Tu’i Malila, died at the Royal Palace ground in Nuku’alofa on May 16, 1965.

    The people of Tonga regarded the animal as a chief and special keepers were appointed to look after it.

    Reports said it was blinded in a bush fire a few years before her death. Her carcass was sent to the Auckland Museum in New Zealand.

    One report said the preserved body of Tu’i Malila was currently on display at the Tonga National Centre.


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