A few days ago I saw this headline on Facebook: “Giant Tortoise Jonathan, World’s Oldest Animal, Put on a New Diet at Age 183.”
Some people in the comments seemed unimpressed by Jonathan’s age, saying that other animals (whales among them) are probably older. That’s fine. Regardless, we’re talking about a 183-year-old animal! That’s incredible!
183 years old. That means Jonathan was born in 1833. 1833! Do you know what else happened in 1833? Seriously, tell me, because I have no idea. Most of the history I was taught skipped from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Everything in between is deemed irrelevant by AP US.
I was hoping Wikipedia would turn up something interesting about 1833, but apparently it was just an unremarkable year in general.
Even so, it’s fascinating to me that this tortoise has lived for so long and through so much. Though he’s spent most of his time on St. Helena Island, so he hasn’t seen much of world history unfold.
A few weeks ago I read through some of the letters I wrote during my year abroad in Japan, and one of them was about my desire to interview a really old Japanese person. I really wanted to hear their stories and how they different from the stories of old people in my life. So one of the teachers at my school connected me with a really old lady, and we had a fun chat.
That’s what I’d like to do with Jonathan the tortoise (if he could speak). How fascinating would it be to talk with someone who has been around since 1833?! I bet he’d have some really interesting things to say.