World’s oldest land animal still enjoys a romp at 189 – even if his mate is male

A 189-year-old tortoise cannot see or smell but his libido shows no sign of slowing down.

Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise is believed to be the oldest land animal on Earth having lived through two world wars, the Russian Revolution, and 39 US presidents.

He was even once mounted like a horse by King Edward VIII before his brief stint on the throne.

Black and white photos show Jonathan’s early years on the remote island of St Helena in the South Atlantic which has been his home since 1882.

A vet who knows the ancient tortoise best says despite him living to the best part of two centuries, Jonathan is as randy as ever.

St Helena’s resident vet Joe Hollins said in 2015: “He’s blind from cataracts, has lost his sense of smell, and so cannot detect food but he has retained excellent hearing.

“In spite of his age, Jonathan still has good libido and is seen frequently to mate with Emma and sometimes Fred – animals are often not particularly gender-sensitive.”

Not being able to see or smell his mate might be why Jonathan has no problem mounting a male pal, Fred.

According to The Times, in 1991 Frederika was introduced to Jonathan to keep him company and just as importantly spark some romance.

Jonathan the giant tortoise
He shares manicured gardens with three other tortoises
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Before long it became a Sunday morning ritual for the pair to have it off yet it never resulted in offspring.

It was not until vets treated a lesion on Fred’s shell that they realised she was in fact a he.

Vet Joe said: “For a veterinary surgeon, to have the oldest-known living land animal under his care is a great privilege, and something I could never have envisaged happening. I have bonded with him and am very fond of the crusty old reptile.

“There is a chance that he’ll either drop dead tomorrow or live until he’s 250 and see us all off.”

Jonathan the giant tortoise
Islanders are said to be very proud of their elderly celebrity
(Image: Paris Match via Getty Images)

Jonathan was brought to St Helena already fully grown which suggests he was about 50 years old at the time.

He was gifted to the then-governor of the Overseas British territory, William Grey-Wilson (in office 1890–97), and he has lived at the governor’s residence ever since, Guinness World Records reports.

The aged tortoise shares the manicured lawns of a Georgian mansion built by the East India Company, with three other giant tortoises: David, Emma and Fred.

Naturalist Dr Rebecca Cairns-Wicks said: “Without suggesting that any scientific proof exists, Jonathan reaching such an exceptional age could be due to the effects of ‘Monkey’s ears’ Centella Asiatica, which is a common herb of pastures on St Helena.

“According to my book on herbs it has many medicinal uses in Asia, it is described as a rejuvenating diuretic herb that clears toxins, reduces inflammation and fever and boosts healing and immunity.

“Perhaps this is what has helped Jonathan reach his grand old age.”


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