Air link for tourists to see ancient tortoise

AFP
He is a tourist attraction worth traveling a long way to see – Jonathan the giant tortoise is perhaps the world's oldest land animal. 
AFP
AFP

This file photo taken on October 20, 2017 shows Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, believed to be the oldest reptile living on earth with and alleged age of 185 years, crawling through the lawn of the Plantation House, the United Kingdom Governor official residence in Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. 

He is a tourist attraction worth traveling a long way to see — Jonathan the giant tortoise is perhaps the world’s oldest land animal. 

It has been living in luxury on the remote British island of St. Helena.

Aged at least 185, Jonathan should prepare himself for an influx of visitors now that an airport has opened on the small island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.

The island’s most famous resident, Jonathan slowly roams the gardens of the governor’s house, eating carrots, lettuce, cucumber, apples and pears prepared in the governor’s kitchen.

He appears on the island’s five-pence coin, on immigration stamps, and in old black-and-white photographs.

“He is an institution, my very important patient,” said his vet Catherine Man.

“He has a very set routine, he goes to the same places in the paddock at the same time each day.”

Jonathan is from the Seychelles but the circumstances of his arrival on St. Helena remain a mystery and the exact year is much disputed. 

Some unconfirmed reports suggest 1882.

Man said the giant tortoise was now blind, had no sense of smell and was already far beyond his life expectancy of 150 years. But otherwise he was in good health with good hearing.

St. Helena, located 1,900 kilometers from the African mainland, is one of the most remote places on Earth.

Tourists will be able to visit Jonathan, viewing him and his three companions from a designated “corridor” to ensure the tortoises are left largely undisturbed.

“I have to keep an eye on him when he is doing that. It was not in the job description when I became governor,” said Lisa Phillips, the governor of St. Helena. 

Inevitably, there has to be a plan for when Jonathan finally dies. His obituary has already been prepared and his shell will be preserved for posterity.


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