• Weird History

How Long The Oldest Members Of 16 Species Actually Lived

List RulesVote up the animals you're most surprised had such long lives.

We always say that we wish our pets lived forever - but what if they actually could? After all, you never know when one creature will become one of the longest living animals. All creatures have a life expectancy, but it's never set in stone. Some animals hit the jackpot in terms of health and fortune, making them live well past their expected life span like Jonathan the tortoise. Many of the oldest people on record lived to be shocking ages, reaching over 110 years old! But did you know that some animals have lived well over 200 years?

Animals have been on this planet even before people have. Some of the oldest animals on Earth have been in existence for billions of years. But most animals live a fairly average life and then pass on with their legacies rarely remembered. Yet, when an animal lives years or even decades beyond their life span, it's hard to forget them. So, here are the incredible animals that broke records for being the oldest of their species.

  • 1

    Jonathan The Seychelles Tortoise - 189 Years Old

    Average Life Span: About 100 years
    About: Jonathan the tortoise (pictured) was born in 1832, and he's still going strong today! In fact, Guinness World Records named him the oldest-known land animal alive today. He's a Seychelles giant tortoise, which is a subspecies of the Aldabra giant tortoise. All tortoises are known for living a ridiculously long time, but Jonathan's legacy puts most other senior tortoises to shame.

    As of 2021, Jonathan the tortoise is estimated to be about 189 years old. During his lifetime, Jonathan has lived through many major events, including the Battle of the Alamo in 1836 and the American Civil War starting in 1861.

    For most of his life, Jonathan has lived on Saint Helena Island. He wanders around the land of the governor of St. Helena and is considered a major tourist attraction on the island. While his exact birth date is unknown, it's believed that he was brought to the island in 1882, when he was about 50 years old. But only Jonathan knows his official age, and unfortunately he can't share it with us.

    Amazing age?
  • 2

    Charlie The Macaw - 114 Years Old

    Average Life Span: 30-35 years
    About: Charlie the blue-and-yellow macaw is famous because she was once Winston Churchill's companion. While the prime minister of the United Kingdom passed in 1965, his bird greatly outlived him. After Churchill passed, a man named Peter Oram purchased the bird for his pet store, but ended up keeping her because she wouldn't stop swearing at customers

    This chatty macaw is likely still alive today, reaching over 114 years old! She is now enjoying her retirement years at Heathfield Nuseries in the United Kingdom. Many people fly from other countries just to see this famous bird. But thankfully, Charlie has learned her manners now and limits her conversations to polite phrases like "hello" and "how are you?" 

    She has been enjoying her current home since the late 1990s. She lives with a few other rescue birds, one of which is her best friend named Rosie. But unlike Charlie, Rosie has only been on this Earth for five years. Perhaps she'll gain a lot of wisdom from her elderly friend.

    Amazing age?
  • Photo: 3268zauber / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    Hanako The Koi Fish - 226 Years Old

    Average Life Span: About 40 years
    About: Hanako was the oldest-known koi fish at 226 years old! She had a beautiful scarlet-orange coloring, and she was born way back in 1751. Her birth occurred during monsoon season, when thousands of young koi fish were present. It's unclear where she spent the start of her life, but she passed in 1977 under the care of Dr. Komei Koshihara, who made a radio address to Japan in 1966, describing the fish and its unusual lifespan:

    There did not exist in this world any such country as the United States of America yet at the time when this carp was born. It was 25 years later that America made public the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It is very interesting to think that during the long years that this carp has continued to live, a country by the name of the United States of America came into existence and has built up her present culture of high standard. To speak in Japanese fashion, it was born in the 1st year of Horeki, that is, in the middle of the Tokugawa Era.

    The fish spent most of her life in a pond at the bottom of Mt. Ontake in Japan. The area was carefully constructed to ensure that Hanako stayed safe and secure for her whole life. Her owner loved her very much and even considered her a part of the family. The fish that lived with Hanako also lived for a long time, so the clean water in the pond was likely a factor. 

    The age of a koi fish can be calculated similarly to that of a tree. You can count the rings on their scales. This can easily be done by taking a sample of the fish's scales, which causes no harm to the fish. That's how they confirmed that Hanako was so old. Scientists planned to mimic Hanako's long-living gene cells to help future koi thrive, but sadly, she passed before that was completed.

    It should be noted that some outlets, such as Snopes, are skeptical of the age claims around Hanako. Snopes neither confirms nor denies the story.

    Amazing age?
  • Photo: Knutschie assumed / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Henry The Tuatara - 113 Years Old

    Average Life Span: About 60 years
    About: Henry the tuatara (pictured) proves that you're never too old to care for children. At age 111, this rare lizard species became a dad. He was the proud father of 11 eggs with another old tuatara, who was about 80 at the time. All the lizards hatched and are thriving. 

    Not only is Henry the oldest known tuatara, but he's also the oldest of his species to mate. But he wasn't always capable of this. Henry arrived at the Southland Museum in New Zealand at the ripe age of 70. He grew irritated very easily and would even attack females at first.

    But as it turned out, Henry had a cancerous tumor in an incredibly sensitive area. After a delicate surgery, Henry sprung to life and was happy to start a family. Scientists hope he will breed with another one of the female lizards in the future, too. Female tuataras usually only lay eggs every two or three years.

    Despite having an average life span of 60 years, Henry is still alive today at over 113 years old. If he's still going strong then it's possible that he still has a long life ahead of him. After all, tuataras are closely related to dinosaurs and have been around for about 200 million years!

    Amazing age?