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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jonathan, 178, 'is world's oldest tortoise'

A tortoise captured on a Boer War photograph has been declared the oldest in the world after researchers found that it is still alive.

Jonathan the tortoise - who still lives on the remote South Atlantic island of St Helena where the picture was taken - is said to be at least 178-years-old.

The photograph was taken around the year 1900 and shows Jonathan with a Boer War prisoner, reports the Daily Telegraph.

It was discovered as part of a collection of Boer War images taken by a man named L.A. Innes who had a studio in the British territory's capital Jamestown.

The pictures were recently sold at auction for £4,000. Further investigation revealed the tortoise in the picture was Jonathan who was still alive.

The tortoise was already about 70 at the time the black and white picture was taken. His life has spanned eight British monarchs from George IV to Elizabeth II.

Jonathan lives on St Helena, along with five other tortoises David, Speedy, Emma, Fredricka and Myrtle, in a plantation.

Despite his old age, locals say he still has the energy to regularly mate with the three younger females.

A spokesman for the island's tourist board said: "Jonathan is the sole survivor of three tortoises that arrived on St Helena Island in 1882.

"He was already mature when he arrived and was at least 50-years-old. Therefore his minimum age is 178-years-old.

"Jonathan is still very active despite his age and adores attention, he is a real poser. He seems to be sightless in one eye, but does not let that slow him down."

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