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10+ Animals That Exceeded Their Life Expectancy and Lived Many Long, Happy Years

Perhaps lots of people would love to live for over a century. Humans might be able to live up to more or less than 100 years, but the number might pale in comparison to the life expectancy of some animals. Some animals have surprised us with unexpectedly long lives, especially, a turtle that could have met Darwin back when he was still traveling to the Americas or a parrot that “spoke” to Winston Churchill.

Bright Side made a list of animals that lived long lives and that caught biology experts’ attention and the public’s hearts thanks to their inspiring will to live. Some of them actually are still with us, surprising us every day!

1. Harriet, the tortoise that lived almost 176 years

This female tortoise, who originally came from the Galapagos Islands, was famous for turning almost 176 years old. Harriet was born sometime in November 1830. Some people believed that Harriet was a male when they first found her, sσ she was named Harry until scientists found out her real gender. It was also said that Harriet was discovered by the famous biologist Charles Darwin in 1835, although it was later found that her species was endemic to a region of islands that he never visited. Harriet lived in the botanical gardens of Brisbane for 99 years after which she was brought to the Australia Zoo owned by Steve Irwin, better known as “The Crocodile Hunter.” This was Harriet’s last home before she passed away in June 2006.

2. Ming, the clam that lived almost 507 years

A group of researchers from the University of Bangor, Wales discovered this clam’s age after it was captured in Icelandic waters in 2006. They had to perform a dendrochronological analysis, which is a very fancy word for determining the age of trees or animals by counting the rings present on their shell, trunk, etc. Ming got its name from the Chinese Ming Dynasty that ruled over China during the clam’s year of birth, 1499. This means that she was 507 years old.

3. Charlie, the 100-year-old macaw

This macaw with blue and gold plumage first became famous in 2004 because his owner, Peter Oram, claimed that Charlie was at least 100 years old. It was said that Charlie was born around 1899 and Peter Oram even claimed that the UK prime minister, Winston Churchill had owned it for a while. Although the latter was proven wrong by people close to Churchill, Charlie did live for about 114 years, the last of which were spent in a pet nursery in Heathfield, Surrey in the UK.

4. Granny, the killer whale that could’ve lived up to 105 years

Also known as J2, some researchers believe that Granny was born around 1911 while some with more conservative methods claim it was closer to 1960. J2 had a very specific characteristic: a grey spot on the back of her dorsal fin and a half-moon shaped notch. In 1967 she was captured together with a group of killer whales but hunters thought she was too old to be kept in a zoo or aquatic park. If it’s true that she lived 105 years, that would make her the longest-living killer whale.

5. Lin Wang, an elephant that lived 86 years

This elephant, which belonged to the Asian elephant family, was born in 1917 and even served in the Chinese and Japanese armies as a beast of burden from 1937 to 1945 during World War II’s Second Sino Japanese War. After that, Lin Wang was taken to a reserve in China and then in 1952 to Taipei’s Zoo in Taiwan where it became an integral part of the city. He befriended his caretakers and lived happily until 2003. Thanks to his incredibly good physical condition, Lin Wang lived almost 2 decades longer than the average Asian elephant whose life expectancy is set to be about 70 years.

6. Corduroy, one of the longest-living cats ever known

It’s said that cats have 7 lives. Well, Corduroy might’ve had only one, but what a long life it was. He was born on August 1 in 1989 and was first adopted by Ashley Reed as a kitten. Ashley was 7 then. Corduroy’s long-lasting life landed him the Guinness Record for the oldest living cat and it launched him to fame. His popularity grew to the point that when an Instagram account was created for him, he gained 15k followers! Unfortunately, he escaped his house when he was 27.

7. ᴛυ’i Malila, another very old tortoise

This peculiar radiated tortoise from Madagascar lived many years and became one of the oldest members of its species. In 1777, the English explorer James Cook brought ᴛυ’i Malila back to Tonga as a gift for the royal family. ᴛυ’i Malila lived in the palace gardens for 188 years before she died from natural causes in May of 1966. Queen Elizabeth II from England was just one of the many celebrities from the long list of people who got to meet the friendly ᴛυ’i Malila.

8. Poncho, the movie star

Few animals enjoyed being in the spotlight and becoming a celebrity like Poncho the parrot, who you may recognize from several movies. He appeared in 102 Dalmatians, Ace Ventura, and Dr. Doolittle (1998). After his short but busy time in Hollywood, Poncho went to a pet shop in Shrewsbury, a town in the United Kingdom, where he was taken care of until he passed away in 2018 after turning 93. His long life was made possible thanks to his caretakers who treated him gently.

9. Cheeta, Tarzan’s sidekick in the movies

This amusing chimpanzee named Cheeta became famous after appearing in the Tarzan movies released between 1930 and 1940 where he played Tarzan’s loyal companion — who in fact was never mentioned in the novels that were used as an inspiration for the movies. Then, in 1960, he retired to an animal sanctuary where he enjoyed watching sports on TV, listening to music, and behaving badly from time to time. He died from kidney failure when he was believed to be 80 years old.

10. Jonathan, the tortoise that lived 188 years and is still enjoying the pleasures of life

Without a doubt, tortoises are known for having long lifespans and another example of that is Jonathan, a member of the Seychelles Giant Tortoise species. It is believed that Jonathan was born around 1832 in Seychelles. When he turned 50 years old, Jonathan was taken to Saint Helena where he’s lived ever since in the governor’s office. One of his caretakers said that he’s still in shape and eats normally, plays with other tortoises of its kind, and roams around the fields freely to take long sunbaths.

11. Number 16

Although this spider’s name is far from common, Number 16, a Gaius villosus, got her name from a study carried out in Australia by arachnologist Barbara York Main. Year after year, Dr. York Main studied Number 16’s behavior after her nest was destroyed by a spider-hunting wasp. These wasps inject larvae in spiders’ bodies to serve as a nest and food once the eggs hatch. Despite the attack, Number 16 lived from 1974 to 2016 until it passed away at the age of 43 years, most certainly due to the consequences of the wasp sting.

What other long-living animals do you know? How old is your pet? Share your story with us in the comments along with your favorite picture of your pet. We’d love to see them!