The Oldest Tortoise in the World Just Had His Very First Bath


At 184 years old, Jonathan the tortoise is the world's oldest land animal, according to the local government of St. Helena Island, a British overseas territory where Jonathan has made his home for almost two centuries. On Saturday, something very special happened to Jonathan the tortoise: he had his first bath.

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According to Dr. Joe Hollins, the veterinarian who gave Jonathan his historic bath, it was "purely for aesthetic reasons," to remove the moss and other things that had grown on Jonathan's shell over the years.


"There is so much interest in Jonathan, St Helena's most famous animal resident, and we want all who visit him to see him at his best," Hollins said in a press release.

For a little perspective, when Jonathan first hatched from his egg, in 1832, slavery was still legal in the U.S., telephones and automobiles were decades away from being invented and photography wasn't really a thing yet either. Now, visitors to St. Helena Island can Instagram a pic of Jonathan on their iPhones before hopping on a plane and flying back to their homes anywhere in the world. Throughout all the change, Jonathan has remained blissfully unaware — and, until now, unwashed.


After his bath, Jonathan was looking extra spiffy. The average life expectancy for Giant Tortoises is actually around 150 years old, so Jonathan is an old man even among his old friends — but don't worry, he's well taken care of.

"He responds to my voice so we have a special bond," Hollins said. "I give him a weekly check-up and feed him fresh vegetables and fruit, just to make sure that our very special old gentleman is getting adequate nourishment and fluid."

Here's a very zen video of Jonathan getting his first bath: