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Giant tortoise gets his first bath in 184 years

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   March 28, 2016 at 3:13 PM

JAMESTOWN, St. Helena, March 28 (UPI) -- Officials on the island of St. Helena shared video documenting "an historic event" -- Jonathan the giant tortoise's first bath in 184 years.

The St. Helena government shared a video on YouTube of Jonathan the giant tortoise getting a solid scrub-down March 19 by veterinarian Joe Hollins.

The government said on its website the tortoise washing was "an historic event" as it was Jonathan's first known bath in his estimated 184 years of life.

Hollins said he consulted with experts to make sure he was using the correct method to wash Jonathan, who is believed to be the oldest living land animal on the planet.

"It is purely for aesthetic reasons," Hollins said. "We want visitors and tourists on the Island to witness the tortoises in their true form, without the obstruction of moss and lichen on their shells. There is so much interest in Jonathan, St. Helena's most famous animal resident, and we want all who visit him to see him at his best."

"He responds to my voice so we have a special bond. I give him a weekly check-up and feed him fresh vegetables and fruit, just to make sure that our very special old gentleman is getting adequate nourishment and fluid.

As a vet, it has been an honor having Jonathan under my care, looking after the oldest known animal in the world. I love animals and caring for Jonathan and his fellow tortoises at Plantation House has been a unique experience in my career."

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