Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, is the world's oldest living land animal (Credit: Guinness World Records/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

A Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan turned 191 years old on December 4, 2023! To put it in perspective, the reptile was born before the invention of the telephone, postage stamps and photographs. With this milestone, Jonathan extended two previously-held Guinness World Records (GWR). He is the oldest living land animal and the oldest documented chelonian (tortoise, turtle, or terrapin).

Jonathan, who lives on the island of St. Helena, is thought to have been born around 1832. The estimate is based on the fact that he was at least 50 years old when he arrived at the small South Atlantic island in 1882. However, some experts believe the tortoise could be even older!

Not surprisingly, Jonathan is a local celebrity and even featured on the island's currency. His December 4th birthday, chosen by the island's current governor in 2022, was observed for three days!

Jonathan (left) c.1882-86, on the grounds of the governor's mansion (Credit: Guinness World Records/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

When not breaking records, Jonathan spends his days relaxing on the plush lawn of the governor's mansion. He has three "younger" tortoise companions. David and Emma are both 55 years old, while Fredrick, who joined in 1991, is 32.

"He enjoys the sun, but on very hot days takes to the shade. On mild days, he will sunbathe – his long neck and legs stretched fully out of his shell to absorb heat and transfer it to his core," his long-time veterinarian Joe Hollins told GWR. "On cold winter days, he will dig himself into leaf mold or grass clippings and remain there all day."

Jonathon enjoys fruits and vegetables (Credit: Guinness World Records/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Jonathan has far surpassed his species' average life expectancy of 150 years. However, the gentle giant is showing no signs of slowing down.

"In spite of losing his sense of smell and being virtually blind from cataracts, his appetite remains keen," Hollins told GWR. "Jonathan is in good health, and all the indications at present make us hopeful that he will reach his third century – if indeed he hasn't done so already!"