Giant Tortoise Diego Retires After Fathering 800 Offspring–And Saving the Species

Giant Tortoise Diego is retiring after fathering 800 offspring, saving the species, and being an all around great tortoise. Keep reading to get the full story of his amazing life.

By Vannessa Jackson Jan 15, 2020 6:09 PMTags
Diego, Galapagos TortoiseGalapagos National Park HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Go, Diego, go! 

Diego, a Galapagos giant tortoise estimated to be about 130-years-old, is making his return home after saving his species. How exactly did he do that? To put it frankly, Diego had so much sex, that well, he saved an entire species. Diego is part of the Chelonoidis hoodensis species that resides on the Galapagos island of Espanola.

According to the San Diego Zoo, the tortoise was brought to  America some time between 1928 and 1933 and was later placed into the Charles Darwin Research Station for protection once the species was declared critically endangered in the 1960s. It has been a long journey for the tortoise who spent 30 years at the San Diego Zoo's breeding program, before making a trip to Ecuador in 1977, and then rejoining his fellow species at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Ecuador's Environmental Ministry announced Friday that it will end the 40-year captive breeding program. Thus allowing Diego to retire.  

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Thanks to Diego, and according to the Galapagos Conservancy, the population went from 15 to 2,000 tortoises. Plus, 40 percent of the current population of tortoises are thought to be descendants of Diego. It is reported he fathered over 800 offspring. Let's just say, he's been a very busy boy. 

"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," Washington Tapia, the Galápagos-based director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, shared in a statement.

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A job well done!