A sex-crazed tortoise has retired after saving its species from the brink of extinction.
The extraordinary centenarian, Diego, a giant tortoise, has successfully sired 40% of the species' population on Espanola Island in the Galapagos, according to a release by the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, which was translated by the Galapagos Conservancy.To see footage of Diego being his fabulous self, check out the video below:
This was part of the 40-year captive breeding program for Espanola tortoises, which was a monumental success, enabling the species' numbers to rise from 15 to 2,000. It has now, however, been ended by Ecuador's Environmental Ministry as of Friday.
The press release stated that the program showed "the recovery of habitat conditions" and the "populations that it hosts." The evaluation was conducted by the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) and Galapagos Conservancy as part of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI).
To put Diego's fathering into context, it was estimated in 2016 that he had upwards of 800 offspring. As per AFP, the 175lb tortoise is a species known as the Chelonoidis hoodensis, which, in the wild, exists only on the island of Espanola.[[imagecaption|| Credit: San Diego Zoo]]
Washington Tapia, the director of the GTRI, said on Friday: "Based on the results of the last census conducted at the end of 2019 and all the data available since 1960 - both of the island and its tortoise population... the conclusion was that the island has sufficient conditions to maintain the tortoise population, which will continue to grow normally - even without any new repatriation of juveniles."
Diego arrived in the US sometime between 1928 and 1933. However, in the 1960s when his species was classed as critically endangered, he was transferred to a breeding center on the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz, the San Diego Zoo reported.
Tapia had previously spoken to AFP about Diego's prolific mating describing him as "a very sexually active male," who played an enormous role in "repopulating the island."
Now, the 12 females and three males who made up the breeding program will be allowed to return to their natural habitat for the first time since the 1960s.
Happy retirement, Diego!