Residents of The World Meet the Oldest Land Creature on the Planet
On a recent trip to the British Overseas Territory of St. Helena during the Ship’s Namibia & Mid-Atlantic Expedition, Residents of The World had the unique pleasure of meeting Jonathan the Tortoise, who at the ripe age of 183 is thought to be the world’s oldest living land creature.
It is widely believed that Jonathan was brought to the island in 1882, at the age of 50. Today he resides at Plantation House, the British Governor’s home, where he has the run of a large expanse of lawn and bushes, along with three younger female tortoises. St. Helena’s governor is appointed by Queen Elizabeth and also serves in that capacity for Ascension and Tristan da Cunha islands.
Jonathan has lived through 37 U.S. presidents, eight British monarchs, and 51 prime ministers. He is cared for by his namesake Jonathan Hollins, St. Helena’s senior veterinary officer, who feeds him a large bucket of salad every Sunday.
Jonathan is one of several other tortoises on the grounds. The other male, David, is a spry 47! We watched David munch on some grass and slowly make his way to a pond on the property to quench his thirst.
We admired the beautiful view that stretched down to the sea and watched the various tortoises as they nibbled on the grass and wandered the grounds.
Jonathan may be one of the last survivors of a distinct species that had been thought to be extinct, as a result of hunting. What an incredible opportunity we had to view this rare and extraordinary creature.