Is world's oldest tortoise gay? Jonathan comes out of his shell as keepers realise partner of 26-years is actually male

Martin Coulter
Experts believe Jonathan's partner of 26 years might be male: Rex

The oldest tortoise in the world might be gay, it has emerged.

Jonathan, a 186-year-old giant tortoise believed to be the oldest creature on Earth, has been living on the island of St Helena for almost two centuries.

The old-timer, who has already outlived the typical life expectancy of a giant tortoise by more than three decades, became restless and aggressive in his eighties.

As a means of appeasing him, locals sought a partner out. Jonathan started mating with fellow tortoise Frederica upon being introduced to "her" in 1991.

Since then, locals have remained baffled as to why the pair have never produced any offspring over the course of their nearly three-decade relationship.

But now an island vet, who treated Frederica for a lesion on her shell, has announced that Jonathan's partner of 26 years might actually be male.

Jonathan is believed to be 186-years-old

Differences in sex between tortoises are not as obvious as they are with most animals, depending on clues such as stomach shape and the shape of notches in their shells.

Around 500 different species of animal have been documented as engaging in bisexual and homosexual relations, including lions, penguins and monkeys.

The announcement marks a new chapter in the life of Jonathan, St Helena's most famous resident, who even features on the reverse side of the island's five pence coin.

Experts await final confirmation of Frederica's sex.