A giant Galapagos tortoise has been credited with saving his species. Diego, who is now over 100-years-old, appears to be having more sex than most humans, having fathered over 800 of his kind who now live on the Galapagos islands.
Normally, when you think of turtles saving the day, it’s a group of four mutants named after artists from the Italian Renaissance. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who were recently brought to life by Michael Bay and based on the comics by Eastman and Laird, aren’t far from what Diego is. Measuring around five feet tall with his head and legs fully extended, the giant Galapagos tortoise could easily be an intimidating presence even to humans. He weighs in at 175 pounds and is nearly three feet long.
Diego probably isn’t a fighter, though, as he seems to be much more of a lover. 50 years ago, there were only two males and 12 females left of his kind, thanks to 18th-century pirates who likely used the shells for various purposes. Three similar species went extinct as a result of their shenanigans.
— Kristina Cassion (@tinacassion) September 16, 2016
According to MSN News, tortoise preservation specialist Washington Tapia at Galapagos National Park stated that nearly half of the species on the Galapagos peninsula exists due to Diego.
“We did a genetic study and we discovered that he was the father of nearly 40 percent of the offspring released into the wild on Espanola. I wouldn’t say (the species) is in perfect health, because historical records show there probably used to be more than 5,000 tortoises on the island. But it’s a population that’s in pretty good shape – and growing, which is the most important.”
Named after the city where he had been staying, Diego was found in the San Diego Zoo and released into the wild in the Galapagos Islands, where the giant tortoise population was nearly extinct in 1976. He had replaced a failed attempt known as Lonesome George, who had refused to breed at all and died in 2012.
Lonesome George had been the icon of Pinta Island, among the last of his kind in a lush Ecuador environment where it was believed Charles Darwin found the inspiration for the theory of evolution.
Diego has apparently been around the world like what you would imagine the average Casanova would do, according to Fox News. He is believed to have been taken from Espanola in the 1900s by a scientific expedition, at the end of which he was given to the San Diego Zoo.
— B I R D (@birdtravelpr) September 16, 2016
San Diego Zoo Ambassador Rick Schwartz was amazed at how the giant Galapagos tortoise unified two organizations, explaining, “Diego’s story is an outstanding example of how cooperation between different organizations can truly make a difference in saving wildlife.”
This could be a symbol of hope for other endangered species, as all we would need to do is find one highly sexually active male and place it in a captive breeding environment with a collection of females. This is assuming that the females don’t avoid it. It’s been working well for the giant Galapagos tortoise Diego and his species, who now thrive at over 2,000 on Espanola Island.
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[Feature Image by Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock.com]