(TMU) — A 100-year-old stud tortoise whose legendary sex drive has helped rescue his entire species will soon return to the wild after fathering 800 offspring.
Diego, a tortoise residing in the Galapagos Islands, has been credited with helping to ensure the survival of his fellow giant tortoises on the Galapagos isle of Espanola after an amazingly successful decades-long stint in a successful captive breeding program.
Roughly half a century ago, only two males and 12 females of his species were alive on the island, and those giant tortoises were far too spread out to successfully reproduce.
And so Diego was shipped out from the San Diego Zoo in the 1960s to take part in the program on Santa Cruz Island, which lies off California’s Central Coast near Santa Barbara, where park rangers believe him to be the patriarch of at least 40 percent of a population of over 2,000 tortoises.
Padre de 800 hijos y salvador de toda una especie, Diego ahora será libre en su natal isla Española, en Galápagos 💚🌴🐢 » http://bit.ly/rgresaDiego
Posted by El Comercio on Friday, January 10, 2020
Diego was joined in his efforts by 14 other adults who were eager and willing to repopulate the species.
Jorge Carrion, the director of the Galapagos National Parks, told AFP:
“He’s contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Espanola … There’s a feeling of happiness to have the possibility of returning that tortoise to his natural state.
About 1,800 tortoises have been returned to Espanola and now with natural reproduction we have approximately 2,000 tortoises.
This shows that they are able to grow, they are able to reproduce, they are able to develop.”
The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago lying hundreds of miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean and is a major tourist destination for wildlife viewing.
The island chain is known for inspiring British naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and is seen as a “living laboratory” of inestimable worth to biologists.
The islands are home to many unique species of plants and animals, and the archipelago has been named a United Nations World Heritage site.