Animal-loving Commons Speaker meets 192-year-old tortoise on St Helena trip

Animal-loving Commons Speaker meets 192-year-old tortoise on St Helena trip
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he been ‘really looking forward to meeting Jonathan’ (Damien O’Bey/St Helena Government/PA)
PA Media - Damien O’Bey/St Helena Government

Sir Lindsay Hoyle swapped the fast pace of British politics for more sedate duties this week, meeting a 192-year-old tortoise on St Helena.

In a first for a Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay used the parliamentary recess to visit the south Atlantic island and UK overseas territory where a highlight of the five-day trip was a meeting with a giant tortoise called Jonathan.

Believed to be the oldest tortoise ever recorded, the famous reptile was presented with a Guinness World Record certificate by the Commons Speaker.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle visits St HelenaSir Lindsay Hoyle with St Helena governor Nigel Phillips and Jonathan the tortoise (Damien O’Bey/St Helena Government/PA)PA Media - Damien O’Bey/St Helena Government

Jonathan is thought to have hatched in 1832 and, although the exact date of his birth is unknown, his official 191st birthday was celebrated in December. The tortoise turns a year older by calendar year so is 192 as of January 1 2024.

Among several other colourful pets, Sir Lindsay owns a much smaller tortoise called Maggie. He has previously quipped that she has a “hard shell and she’s isn’t for turning”.

“As a massive animal lover, and owner of a three-stone tortoise, I have been really looking forward to meeting Jonathan – St Helena’s 192-year-old equivalent – and giving him the Guinness World Record for being the oldest recorded tortoise,” he said.

Aside from Jonathan, the Speaker also met with local dignitaries including Governor Nigel Phillips.

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