The one in the viral image is not 190 years old “Jonathan the Tortoise”.

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An image of a giant tortoise is doing rounds on various social media platforms with a claim that it is the picture of ‘Jonathan the tortoise,’ the world’s oldest living land animal alive today.


Many netizens across different social media platforms are disseminating the image featuring a giant tortoise with the claim that it is the photo of the Guinness record-holder ‘Jonathan the tortoise,’ the world’s oldest known terrestrial animal alive.



The image is going viral on Facebook and has garnered the attention of many users.









The viral image was tweeted by several netizens on Twitter with the same claim.



The viral image was also tweeted from some of the verified Twitter handles. A verified Twitter user named Rob Szczerba, who according to his Twitter bio is a Rocket Scientist and a senior fellow emeritus at Lockheed Martin(American aerospace, defense, information security, and technology company), also tweeted the same image and captioned it as “Born in 1832 (5 years prior to the coronation of Queen Victoria), Jonathan the Tortoise is due to turn 190 years old in 2022. That makes him the oldest-known land animal alive today.” His tweet had garnered more than 2.3 thousand likes and had been retweeted more than 500 times while writing this news report.



@worldscontext, a Twitter user with more than 118 thousand followers on the microblogging site also tweeted the viral image with the caption –

“Born in 1832, Jonathan the Turtle is expected to turn 190 in 2022. This makes him the oldest known land animal alive today.” His tweet had amassed more than 38 thousand likes and had been retweeted over seven thousand times at the time of writing this news report.


The tortoise in the photo is not Jonathan.

The viral image of the giant tortoise being circulated across several social media platforms with the claim that it is ‘Jonathan the tortoise,’ the oldest known land animal alive today, is misleading.

We took the viral image and did a reverse search on Google and found that the tortoise in the picture is a giant Galapagos tortoise in Australia and not ‘Jonathan the tortoise'(a much-rarer Seychelles tortoise) as the viral tweets and posts claim. During our investigation, we came across a news story published by the daily mail which suggests that ‘Jonathan the tortoise’ is only 45 inches long and can stand only up to two feet tall while on the contrary the tortoise in the viral image is much larger than that.


After conducting a reverse image search on Google we discovered a Facebook post, posted on 30 April 2014 by Taronga Zoo Sydney on its official Facebook page. The post features the viral image, but the tortoise in the post is not ‘Jonathan the tortoise’ it is in fact a giant Galapagos tortoise. The image was captured when two tiny Galapagos hatchlings were born in 2014 as a part of the Galapagos tortoise breeding program undertaken at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

The same image was also posted on their official Instagram page on 30 April 2014.
             ‘Jonathan the tortoise’ pictured in February 2019 (Image Credits: Guinness world records)
During the course of our investigation, we discovered the images of ‘Jonathan the tortoise’, which is the oldest-known land animal alive today according to the Guinness world records. There is ample information available on the dodo(American media brand that talks about animals’ rights and shares their stories) and, on Guinness world records’ official website about ‘Jonathan the tortoise.’
Also, while investigating the veracity of the claim made in the viral tweets and posts, we discovered that the viral image was also present on ZooBorns’ website, an animal news website, and a book line that spreads awareness about the conservation of animals and keeps a track of animal births in zoos across Australia. The information available on the page makes it quite evident that the giant tortoise in the viral image is not ‘Jonathan the tortoise’ but a giant Galapagos tortoise used for a breeding program in Taronga Zoo in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Hence, after analyzing all the information we conclude that the viral claim is misleading.
Rupesh Kumar

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Rupesh Kumar

A Journalism student at Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, who writes out of sheer avidity and has a nose for news, seeking to leverage skills to contribute to high-quality journalism.