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St. Helena Island: The world’s oldest turtle celebrates its birthday

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St. Helena Island It has survived 40 US presidents – the world’s oldest turtle is celebrating its birthday

Jonathan is the oldest tortoise in the world. He experienced two world wars and the building of the first skyscraper. The animal is now celebrating its 190th birthday on the island of St.

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Jonathan lives with three other Seychelles giant tortoises in the garden of the governor’s residence in St. At the beginning of December, the world’s oldest turtle celebrates its 190th birthday.

Wikipedia/CC BY-SA

In this historic photo, taken between 1882 and 1886 on the island of St.  Helena, Jonathan is at least 50 years old according to experts.

In this historic photo, taken between 1882 and 1886 on the island of St. Helena, Jonathan is at least 50 years old according to experts.

Screenshot Wikipedia

For the residents of St.  Helena became Jonathan an icon.

For the residents of St. Helena became Jonathan an icon.

imago images/Peter Baker

That’s what it’s all about

  • The oldest turtle in the world is celebrating its birthday.

  • The Seychelles giant tortoise Jonathan has lived on the island of St.

  • There he is honored as a national hero and depicted on coins and stamps.

Jonathan is the oldest turtle in the world, as officially confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records. Since the last century he has lived on the island of St. Helena, a British protectorate on the west coast of Africa. As the symbol of the island, he celebrates his 190th birthday there from 2 to 4 December.

Jonathan became a “lazy, aged gentleman.”

Jonathan, which to the subspecies of Seychelles giant tortoises lives with three other giant tortoises – David, Fred and Emma – in the garden of the governor’s residence in St. Helena, a Georgian-style colonial building on an extinct volcano. As he gets older, Jonathan has become a “lazy, older gentleman” who likes to go his own way, says his caregiver Joe Hollins.

Jonathan has lived on the 121 square kilometer island with almost 4500 inhabitants since 1882. About 60 years earlier, Napoleon, who went to St. Helena was banished, died here. The turtle was a gift for the Briton Sir William Grey-Wilson, who later became governor of St. Helena (1890-1897) became. Since then, Jonathan has lived in the garden of the residence where he has seen more than 30 governors come and go.

Nobody knows Jonathan’s exact date of birth, but a historical letter and a photograph prove that he is at least 190 years old. The letter of the year of arrival shows that Jonathan landed as an “adult animal”. Also in a photograph taken on the island between 1882 and 1886, you can see from the shell diameter that Jonathan was already fully grown when he arrived. According to experts, this is equivalent to a minimum age of 50 years for turtles.

Jonathan “saw wars and plagues come and go”

Actually, the average life expectancy of his species is 150 years, says Hollins, but Jonathan is a survivor. For many decades, giant tortoises have been considered a delicacy, especially among seafarers. The animals were nutritious, easy to catch and easy to stack on deck, Hollins said.

Since his birth, Jonathan has seen world wars, eight monarchs on the British throne, and 40 American presidents (est. 1832). His birth predates the printing of the first postage stamp (1840), the construction of the first skyscraper (1885) and the completion of the Eiffel Tower (1887).

“For us, Jonathan is a symbol of perseverance and survival. He saw wars and plagues come and go, empires rise and fall, even though he knew nothing about it himself,” says Hollins. “He gives us hope that something can survive on our planet despite the brutality of humanity.”

Coins and stamps in honor of Jonathan

Jonathan is now blind and has lost his sense of smell. But his hearing is excellent, says Hollins. Jonathan recognizes the caregiver by voice and generally enjoys spending time with people. When he hears visitors, he’ll often run up, let you pet him and take a picture, says Hollins. He also loves the sounds of the adjacent tennis court – Jonathan often stands by the fence for a long time listening to the voices and the balls hitting the ground.

For the residents of St. Helena became Jonathan an icon. A fivepence coin already bears his likeness, with the inscription “Jonathan the giant tortoise”. Part of the December birthday celebrations is the release of a Jonathan stamp. The tourism authority has planned events over three days for the festival. Visitors will receive an official commemorative certificate bearing Jonathan’s footprint, signed by the governor.

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(dpa/fis)

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