The world's oldest living animal, a 184-year-old tortoise named Jonathan, finally got the very first bath of his life.
Jonathan was set for a royal visit at his home in the British outpost of St. Helena, prompting his vet — Dr. Joe Hollins — to give him a good cleaning in order to be his most presentable self, reported Daily Mail.
"In the past Jonathan's keepers had a rather laissez faire attitude to the tortoises on St Helena and so this is probably his first wash in 184 years," 58-year-old Hollins told the news site. "We gave him a good scrub as we are expecting a royal visitor who is going to meet him so we want him to look his best."
Hollins scrubbed each segment of Jonathan's shell and cleaned off black sludge and bird droppings that had accumulated on the shell. Surgical soap, soft brushes and a loofah were used and applied gently to the shell so as to avoid any damage to it.
"He looks so much cleaner and he seemed to enjoy the whole experience," Hollins said. "Jonathan stood like a statue when I was washing him. I don't know whether that was the vibrations he found soothing or he was thinking, 'At last, I've had my first bath!'"
"I just had a bucket of water with some surgical scrub and used the loofah and a little brush and just slowly cleaned him, it was pretty tiring," he added. "He doesn't look any younger, but he does look different. He is much paler and you can see the rings on his shell have almost completely disappeared. He had black deposits on his shell that came from wear and tear. As far as I could see his shell is in great condition for his age. Hopefully he won't have to wait another 185 years before his next bath."
A Slate article from 2006 explained that giant tortoises live so long due to an evolutionary advantage found in certain types of animals. The tortoises live longer so they can reproduce more effectively, the report said.
Tortoises' armored shells also play a role in their long lives, as they help to protect and defend against predators. Their size is also a contributing factor, as larger animals typically live longer than smaller ones.