The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : The World's Oldest Living Animal Get His First Bath at 184-Years-Old

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The World's Oldest Living Animal Get His First Bath at 184-Years-Old

The world's oldest living animal is starting over with a clean sheet at 184 years old - after a vet gave him his first ever bath.

Jonathan the giant tortoise has come out of his shell after centuries of grime were painstakingly scrubbed off his back with a loofah, soft brush and surgical soap.

Dr. Joe Hollins, the vet for the British Outpost of St. Helena in the south Atlantic where Jonathan lives, decided to give him a spruce up ahead of a royal visit in a few weeks' time.

He carefully scrubbed each of the segments of Jonathan's shell, known as scutes, and removed black sludge and bird droppings while the tortoise sedately chewed on grass.

Surgical soap was chosen as it is not caustic and soft brushes and a loofah were gently used to avoid damage to his shell.

After his bath Dr. Hollins noticed that the rings on his shell were completely worn away. These rings are used to tell the tortoises’ age.

There was no medical reason for his hour-long soak. They were expecting a visit in May, by an unknown royal for the dedication of a new airport on the tiny island of St. Helena.

The spring clean comes months after Jonathan, who was aged 50 when he arrived on the historic isle in 1882, was placed on a special high calorie diet as it was feared that his health was declining.

Dr. Hollins, believes it is Jonathan's first ever bath.

He said, “In the past Jonathan's keepers had a rather laid back attitude to the tortoises on St. Helena, and this is probably his first bath he’s had in 184 years.

He looks so much cleaner and he seemed to enjoy the whole experience.

He stood like a statue when I was washing him, I don't know if it was the vibrations that he found so soothing, or if he was thinking "at last, I've had my first bath!"

“I used water, surgical scrub, loofah and a little brush to slowly cleaned him.

He doesn't look any younger, but he does look different. He is much paler and you can see the rings on his shell have almost completely disappeared.
He had black deposits on his shell that came from wear and tear. As far as I could see his shell is in great condition for his age.”

Hopefully he won't have to wait another 185 years before his next bath!
Jonathan, is 45ins long and stands about 2 feet tall, arrived on St. Helena as a gift to the governor from the Seychelles.”

In his time on St. Helena he has seen 28 British governors come and go. Eight British monarchs from George IV to Elizabeth II have been crowned during his lifetime, and 51 British Prime Ministers have served at 10 Downing Street.

Private tours were arranged in the past for visitors to meet Jonathan around the Governor's house.

He currently shares his enclosure with four other giant tortoises - David, Emma, Frederika and Myrtle.

Although he has lost his sense of smell and his eyesight is fading, Jonathan is said to be in good health.

Dr. Hollins, will now start cleaning some of the other tortoises, and some of them are dirtier than Jonathan.

Following the death of Harriet, a 175-year-old giant Galapagos Land tortoise, in 2005 in Australia, Jonathan has been recognized as the world's oldest living land animal.

St. Helena was chosen as the place of Emperor Napoleon's second exile and the French dictator died there in 1821.

You may be interested in reading: A Tortoise Named Jonathan is Believed to be the World’s Oldest Known Living Land Creature

















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