Jonathan the tortoise is the oldest known land animal. And in order to fact-check that (since we feel like it would be an easy claim for people to make without much proof), we turned to Snopes.
An 1886 photo of Jonathan the Tortoise
The rumors about a 100+-year-old tortoise actually started in early 2022 when a website called MajesticAnimals.net posted a photo from what they said was the early 1900s claiming to show a tortoise named Jonathan who is still alive.
The photo was credited to the director of an NGO on Saint Helena Island where old tortoises are known to live.
Says Snopes: “Jonathan has been misidentified in viral photographs before. We have reached out to the government of Saint Helena Island, where the tortoise lives, to confirm the authenticity of the image.”
The image is real – but the site got one thing wrong. It’s actually OLDER than they claimed, and therefore so is Jonathan!
Jonathan is pushing 200!
One of the photos is from 1886! And Jonathan is already full grown. He’s been on Saint Helena for a very long time, and his age is estimated to be somewhere around 190 years old!
As you might imagine, he’s quite a tourist attraction. So if you’re ever in the South Atlantic, off the coast of Namibia, you can visit Jonathan at the governor’s residence “where he gets hand-fed fruit and vegetables and ‘frolics’ with female tortoises, according to an AFP News Agency video profile, even though he has lost his sight due to cataracts.”
It’s doubtful Jonathan would still be alive without human intervention at this point since a blind tortoise wouldn’t fare well out in the wild.
And the latest rumor about Jonathan is that he is also gay and has a male lover. Apparently, he was partnered with a tortoise named Fredrica back in 1991, and when the caretakers wondered why they weren’t producing any offspring despite their frequent mating, they realized she was a he.
Want one more fun fact to top you off? Saint Helena is the island where Napoleon died after his exile. His body is now in Paris, but you can still visit his original grave after you go to see Jonathan. – WTF fun facts