Have you ever asked yourself why you know of certain “famous” animals? It’s likely because they either appeared regularly in popular TV shows or movies, or they were caught on film doing something adorable or hilarious (and that footage goes viral). Those are pretty much the only routes to animal fame.
However, there are some animals who gain notoriety for totally different reasons. Some are legends because they’ve stuck around for an exceptionally long amount of time. From tortoises to flamingos and everything in between, here are 20 animals who’ve lived super long lives. You won’t believe which one was the oldest!
1. Ernestine the pig (24 years old and counting): When Ernestine’s owners first purchased this pig, they were told that she wouldn’t live to be any older than, say, 12 years old. Now, Ernestine is 24—and she doesn’t show any signs of going anywhere anytime soon.
2. Max the dog (29 years old): Born in 1983, this adorable mutt was just months away from his 30th birthday when he made history: the Guinness Book of World Records approved his claim as the world’s oldest dog.
3. Creme Puff the cat (38 years old): At 38, this cat was considered the oldest cat of all time! How did she live for so long? Well, her diet of bacon, eggs, asparagus, and broccoli might have had something to do with it!
4. Debby the polar bear (42 years old): This lovely bear lived out her days at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada. Not only was she the oldest polar bear ever recorded by the time she passed away, but she was also one of the three oldest bears of all time!
5. Ol’ Billy the horse (62 years old): Usually, horses only live to be about 20 or 25 years old. Not so for Ol’ Billy! This guy reached a whopping 62 years. He died in 1822, and his head is now on display in an art gallery in London.
6. Wisdom the albatross (67 years old and counting): This beautiful female albatross was born in 1951, making her the oldest living bird in the wild. She’s tagged so that scientists can keep up with her health. Since 1956, she’s flown more than three million miles!
7. Thaao the Andean condor (80 years old): Most condors don’t live much past 50 years of age, but Thaao was an exception. He managed to become an octogenarian, and he died in Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in 2010 at the age of 80.
8. Muja the alligator (80 years old and counting): Don’t mess around with this gator! He currently resides in the Belgrade Zoo; in fact, he was one of the only animals to survive when the zoo was bombed during World War II. He also survived having one of his legs amputated in 2012 when he contracted gangrene.
9. Cookie the cockatoo (82 years old and counting): Cookie’s impressive age has earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest parrot. The staff at the zoo in Chicago where he lives helps care for him, which includes treating his osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
10. Greater the flamingo (83 years old): There must be something about the weather in sunny Australia, because this flamingo (whose gender was never identified) lived longer than most people. Maybe all that pink just kept Greater feeling young and fabulous?
11. Lin Wang the Asian elephant (86 years old): This elephant served with the Chinese Expeditionary Force during the Second Sino-Japanese War. When he left the service, he retired to the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan, where he was known as “Grandpa Lin Wang.”
12. Charlie the blue and yellow macaw (118 years old and counting): This parrot was born in 1899 and he’s still kicking! Some believe that this elderly avian was a pet of Winston Churchill, though his family denied those claims. Charlie is also known to shout strings of obscenities from time to time.
13. Henry the tuatara (120 years old and counting): These lizards are notoriously long-lived. Henry didn’t even mate for the first time until 2009 at the age of 111. His lack of experience didn’t hurt him; he fathered more than 11 little lizards. Talk about an old dad!
14. Jeanne Calment the human (122 years old): Okay, so she isn’t an animal, but she still had a good run! Even though she smoked like a chimney, Jeanne lived to be 122. She credited her long life to a love of tennis and bicycle riding. Also, apparently, cigarettes.
15. George the lobster (140 years old): When the animal rights activists at PETA learned that the City Crab and Seafood restaurant in New York City kept this lobster as a mascot, they were furious. They forced them to release the crustacean back into the wild.
16. Tu’i Malila the tortoise (177): This long-lived tortoise was given to the royal family of Tonga by Captain James Cook when he came to visit them in 1777. Tu’i Malila’s remains are preserved and now on display in Tonga.
17. Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise (183 years old and counting): Yet another tortoise, this big fellow is still alive and kicking! He lives on the island of St. Helena where the five-cent coin proudly displays his image on one side. Now that’s pretty darn impressive.
18. Adwaita the tortoise (255 years old): Apparently, tortoises are modern-day dinosaurs. Adwaita was born in the Seychelles; he was eventually brought to India and given as a gift to the East India Tea Company. At 255, he was one of the oldest turtles on record—and he could have been older!
19. Hanako the koi (226 years old): These giant goldfish are known for having very long lives. Some can live up to 100 years old! Hanako the koi put them all to shame, passing away at the ripe old age of 226 back in 1977.
20. Ming the clam (507 years old): And holding the record of the oldest animal on this list? Ming the clam. According to the growth lines on his shell, this mollusk plucked from the waters of Iceland in 2006 was more than 507 years old! Good old Ming started living his best life in the year 1499.
Can you believe how long some of these animals lived? In addition to breaking all kinds of records, they were around for so many major moments in history.