FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show The Tortoise That Is The ‘Oldest Known Land Animal Alive Today’?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows Jonathan the tortoise, the “oldest known land animal alive today.”

Verdict: False

The photo does not show Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise. Instead, it depicts a Galapagos tortoise that’s in its 50s at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia.

Fact Check:

The Guinness Book of World Records has dubbed Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, as the “oldest land animal (living).” The tortoise is believed to have hatched around 1832 and resides on the South Atlantic island of St. Helena, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Social media users have recently been sharing a photo of a large tortoise looking up at the sky, claiming it shows Jonathan. The caption for one such Facebook post reads, “Born in 1832, Jonathan the Turtle is expected to turn 190 in 2022, this makes him the oldest known land animal alive today.”

The picture, however, does not show Jonathan. Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact discovered it actually shows an adult Galapagos tortoise at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia. The zoo posted the picture on its Instagram page in April 2014.


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A post shared by Taronga Zoo (@tarongazoo)

“Taronga Western Plains Zoo has continued its Galapagos Tortoise breeding success, welcoming two new hatchlings! The hatchlings will take 20-25 years to reach their full size and may live up to 150 years!” reads the caption. “Our photo shows the tiny pair next to three-year-old hatchling, NJ and one of our adult males.”

When reached for comment, a Taronga Zoo spokesperson confirmed the large tortoise in the picture is a “male tortoise in his fifties.” The spokesperson also noted that Galapagos tortoises “can live up to 150 years so it’s unlikely he’s the oldest in the world.” (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Real Sea Turtle ‘Living In The Waters Of The Atlantic Ocean’?)

The photo of the Taronga Western Plains Zoo tortoise has previously circulated along with false claims that it shows Alagba, a well-known tortoise in Nigeria that died in 2019, according to AFP.

Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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