Some animals in the ocean live longer than the oldest land animals. There are also land animals alive today that have lived longer than every human currently on the planet.
Many individuals can live long after the average life expectancy for their species. This is especially true for humans and animals under their care because modern medicine has revolutionized what it means to age. However, some animals are long-lived despite no human intervention.
Let’s discover the 5 oldest land animals alive today.
5. Oldest Gorilla in Captivity: Fatou the Gorilla
Fatou is a 65-year-old western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) that lives at the Berlin Zoo in Germany, and she’s the oldest captive gorilla in the world. Gorillas like Fatou usually survive a maximum of 50 years in captivity. In the wild, they average about 40 years old when they die.
Fatou only bred once in her life and gave birth to a girl in 1974. Her daughter went on to have children, and now Fatou has dozens of relatives across multiple generations.
A sailor captured Fatou in western Africa and brought her to Marseilles, France. After changing hands a few times, she became the property of the Berlin Zoo in 1959.
Western lowland gorillas are mostly herbivores but eat termites, ants, and larvae. These gorillas carry babies for eight and a half months, similar to a human’s gestation period.
4. Oldest Wild Bird: Wisdom the Albatross
Wisdom is the oldest wild bird at around 71 years, though she may be older. She’s a Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) that scientists have been studying since 1956. She has flown more than three million miles since she began being observed.
This bird nests on the Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean every year as a member of the planet’s largest albatross colony. On February 1, 2021, Wisdom’s most recent chick hatched. She has had over 30 chicks during her life.
She has been breeding with her partner, Akeakamai, for about a decade. Albatrosses are monogamous and only take on a new mate if their first partner dies. She lays one egg annually and has done so every year since 2006.
Laysan albatrosses have been observed in same-sex pairings to raise chicks when there are more females than males. This allows the females to cooperate in raising young as an opposite-sex couple would. If the same-sex pair couples for more than one year in a row, each female is allowed to be the one that reproduces.
3. Oldest Human Being: Lucile Randon
Lucile Randon is the oldest living person at 118 years old. She’s also known as Sister Andre and currently lives in France. When she was 116, she survived COVID, which makes her the oldest survivor of the pandemic.
She drinks a glass of wine and eats chocolate every day. In 2021, she said that being the oldest person on earth was a sad honor. She also expressed that she’d like to be in heaven but that her living family treats her well.
A supercentenarian is a person that’s reached an age over 110, and Lucile Randon is one of about a dozen people in the world with the title. There are currently three supercentenarians alive in the United States. One in one thousand people that celebrate their one-hundredth birthday make it to 110 years old.
2. Oldest Terrestrial Living Fossil: Henry the Tuatara
Henry, a tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus), is over 120 years old. He lives at the Southland Museum in New Zealand.
The museum has approved a project to expand its tuatara housing to keep up with its growing population. It’s projected to be completed in 2027.
Tuataras are endemic to New Zealand, and they have been on the planet since the time of the dinosaurs. Because they’ve remained mostly unchanged, they’re considered living fossils. Some evolutionary progress has occurred since they came into existence, however.
Tuataras are the last living animal from the order Rhynchocephalia that experienced its maximum diversity during the Mesozoic Era. Although a tuatara looks like a lizard, it is a different type of animal.
He mated for the first time at 111 years old and fathered eleven babies then. This was two years after the museum’s tuatara breeding program became fruitful after a roof was replaced on the enclosure. The acrylic roof let more light in, which worked so well that Southland Museum now sends tuataras to locations around New Zealand.
Henry has been in captivity for more than 46 years. This makes him the longest-held captive animal in the world. Tuataras in the wild are facing extinction because invasive species like possums and rats prey on them.
1. Oldest Land Animal: Jonathan the Seychelles Giant Tortoise
Jonathan is a 190-year-old Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa) that was born in 1832. He weighs 440 pounds and lives in the company of three other tortoises. He holds the distinction of being the oldest land animal on earth.
This tortoise no longer has a sense of smell. He’s also blind, but he still eats well and seems happy.
His meals consist of bananas, apples, pears, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers. Jonathan eats his fresh food bounty about once per week. Kale is never on the menu as it’s one of the few foods he dislikes.
Jonathan doesn’t live where he was born. He currently lives on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean at the governor’s mansion.
Jonathan was transported to the island as a gift in 1882 from Seychelles. He was described as fully mature upon arrival, meaning he was at least 50 years old. He’s likely much older than scientists think.
Tortoises were a common gift during the nineteenth century between politicians. They didn’t require much food and water on ships, and they also didn’t need much room to wander around while in transit.
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