Aged 183, Jonathan the giant tortoise is alive and well after being put on a healthy regime amid fears that he was close to the end after his health declined. The world's oldest living creature's condition had worsened after losing his vision and sense of smell, but his condition improved drastically after he was helped by Dr Joe Hollins, the only vet on the British outpost of St Helena Island – or home, as Jonathan calls it.
Noticing the difficulties that Jonathan was facing in terms of securing food due to his ailments, Dr Hollins put the giant tortoise on a high-calorie and healthy diet, which included apples, bananas, carrots, cucumber and guava. The change in the well-known reptile who has lived on the island for more than a century was dramatic.
"Jonathan has become almost completely blind due to cataracts and has lost his sense of smell. He was just grabbing at food and ended up chomping on twigs which blunted his beak," Dr Hollins said.
"He lost weight because of his nutritional deficiencies," he added. "I changed his diet and started to give him a mixed bowl of fruit and vegetables like apples, carrots, lettuce, guavas and bananas which are very high in calories.
"Since then his life has been transformed. He has put on weight and is a lot more active and is walking more than he used to," Dr Hollins said. "He has more fat cover which will help him in the winter and has good nail growth.
"The life expectancy of a giant tortoise is 150 but there is no reason why Jonathan won't still be here after we have all gone," Hollins said. Jonathan was a gift from the Seychelles to the governor of St Helena in the late 1800s and the magnificent creature has survived two world wars and outlasted 28 British governors. Some 51 prime ministers have also served in office during Jonathan's life.