Henry Kaiser, National Science Foundation
- Many animals can live much longer than their average life expectancies.
- Cockatoos and tortoises have been known to live for 100 years or more, while Greenland sharks can live upwards of 400 years.
- There’s even an "immortal" species of jellyfish.
- We’ve rounded up some of the world’s oldest animals.
While humans outlive many other animals, some species put the average human lifespan (about 72 years, according to the World Health Organization) to shame. Giant tortoises, for example, can live more than 100 years, while bowhead whales can reach 200 years of age.
Plus, certain individual animals have blown past the life expectancy of their species, gaining notoriety for the feat.
Here are 12 of the world’s oldest animals, ranked by age.
The oldest female gorilla living today is thought to be 61.
Western lowland gorillas are a subspecies native to the Congo Basin, and they are the most widespread of all the subspecies of gorilla. Their lifespan in the wild ranges from 30 to 40 years. In captivity, they can live into their 50s and beyond.
Until her death at age 60 in 2017, Colo, a western lowland gorilla at the Columbus Zoo, was the world’s oldest zoo-born gorilla. Colo’s name, an abbreviation of Columbus, Ohio, was chosen in a contest.
Today, two female gorillas are thought to share the title: Fatou at the Berlin Zoo in Germany and Trudy at the Little Rock, Arkansas Zoo are both estimated to be 61. Ozzy, a male gorilla at the Atlanta, Georgia Zoo is thought to be the oldest male at about 58.
The longest-living albatross is at least 68 years old.
Bob Peyton/US Fish and Wildlife Service/AP
Albatrosses, whose wings can stretch 11 feet, are able to live 50 years or more. The longest-living albatross in the US — and one of the world’s oldest known wild birds overall — is a Laysan albatross named Wisdom.
Believed to be at least 68 years old, Wisdom has far surpassed her species’ typical lifespan of 12-40 years. She has made the news several times for continuing to lay eggs well into her old age. Wisdom returns annually to a nest site at Midway Atoll in the North Pacific Ocean.
Ambika at the National Zoo in Washington, DC is thoght to be 71 years old, likely making her the oldest living elephant.
Asian elephants can typically live into their mid-50s. However, a few have made it into their 80s. Lin Wang, an Asian elephant at Taipei Zoo in Taiwan, lived to be 86. At the time of his death in 2003, he held the Guinness World Record for being the oldest elephant in captivity.
Dakshayani, an elephant at the Chengalloor Mahadeva Temple in Kerala, India also had a long life. Given the nickname "Gaja Muthassi" (meaning "elephant granny"), she died in February at 88 years of age.
In the US, there are several Asian elephants in their 70s: Shirley, who lives at Tennessee’s Elephant Sanctuary, is 70 years old, while Ambika at the National Zoo in Washington, DC is 71. It’s worth noting, though, that these ages are often estimated.
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