Diego is a giant tortoise who is thought to be over a century old, but he has been doing his bit to ensure his species survives by having lots and lots of sex. Diego is a giant Galapagos tortoise who lives on the island of Española. The island is part of the Galapagos Archipelago and lies on its Southernmost tip. It estimated that he has fathered as many as 800 offspring.
Diego has had a long journey in his life including spending decades at the San Diego Zoo. Dr Harry Wegeforth, the founder of the San Diego Zoo brought Diego to the zoo after one of his expeditions to the Galapagos way back in 1928. By the time the 1960’s arrived the species was declared critically endangered. There were only a couple of males and a dozen females left in the wild so a search went out seeking other giant tortoise’s living in zoos. The San Diego Zoo allowed Diego to return home back in 1977 where he joined his compatriots at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Diego the stud
It was at the research station where Diego provide he was nothing short of a stud. According to the results of a study done on the turtle population in 2010, it was revealed that Diego was so busy procreating that he was actually the father of 40 per cent of all new tortoises released back into the wild from the station. Thanks to the breeding program at the station the species is no longer in danger of extinction with more than 2,000 being released in Española.
The species has a bright future
Despite all the success the research station has had with this breeding program, threats remain. Originally there were 15 species of giant tortoises that lived in the Galapagos Islands, unfortunately three have become extinct. Diego has now reached a ripe old age, nevertheless, he is doing his best to ensure that his species and his descendants have a much brighter future ahead of them.