Jonathan the Tortoise: A Timeless Tale of Resilience and Romance

Jonathan’s Remarkable Journey Through Time

In the vast tapestry of history, there exists a living legend, a gentle giant named Jonathan the tortoise. Celebrating his 191st birthday on December 4, 2023, Jonathan has traversed through an astonishing era, witnessing the reigns of 40 U.S. presidents and eight British monarchs.

A Giant Tortoise’s Murky Origins

Jonathan in April 2021. Source: Wikipedia

Jonathan’s early years are shrouded in mystery. Gifted to St. Helena in 1882, he arrived fully grown at the age of 50. Tradition dictated that tortoises were diplomatic gifts, sparing them from the dinner table. Identified as an Aldabra giant tortoise initially, later revelations suggested Jonathan is a rare Seychelles giant tortoise, surpassing their typical life expectancy of 150 years.

Jonathan’s Presence in the 1800s

Having arrived in St. Helena in the late 1800s, Jonathan became an integral part of the island’s fabric. His influence extended to currency, immortalized on the five pence coin. Through the political upheavals of 40 U.S. presidents, 31 St. Helena governors, and eight British monarchs, Jonathan stood as an unwavering symbol of continuity.

The Love Chronicles of Jonathan the Tortoise

Jonathan exploring the paddock in front of Plantation House (2022). Source: Wikipedia

In 1991, Jonathan’s life took a romantic turn when the French consul gifted him Frederika. An intimate relationship ensued, captivating the island. However, a vet’s revelation in 2017 unveiled a surprising twist – Frederika was likely a male, solving the mystery of their childless union. Undeterred, Jonathan’s healthy libido persists, engaging with fellow tortoises Emma and Frederik.

Jonathan Today: A Saga of Endurance

Jonathan (left) with another giant tortoise (1886) (aged 53-54). Source: Wikipedia

In the golden years of his life, Jonathan spends his days basking in the sun, enjoying meals of lettuce, bananas, and cucumbers, and maintaining his vigorous appetite for love. Despite his advanced age, marked by blindness and loss of smell, Jonathan shows no signs of slowing down. Oblivious to his world records as the oldest chelonian and the oldest living land animal, he remains focused on the simple pleasures of life.

Jonathan’s Timeless Perspective

While the world around him witnessed wars, famines, plagues, and the rise and fall of nations, Jonathan remains blissfully unaware of the passage of time. His existence spans from the first photograph in 1838 to the moon landing in 1969, encapsulating a unique journey through history.


  1. Q: How old is Jonathan the tortoise?
    • A: Jonathan celebrated his 191st birthday on December 4, 2023.
  2. Q: What is Jonathan’s species?
    • A: Initially thought to be an Aldabra giant tortoise, he is now believed to be a rare Seychelles giant tortoise.
  3. Q: Does Jonathan have offspring?
    • A: No, despite a romantic history, Jonathan and Frederika, later revealed to be male, never had offspring.
  4. Q: What are Jonathan’s favorite foods?
    • A: Jonathan enjoys meals of lettuce, bananas, and cucumbers but dislikes kale.
  5. Q: What records does Jonathan hold?
    • A: Jonathan holds the titles of the oldest chelonian and the oldest living land animal.

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