A 100 year old Galapagos tortoise named Diego has fathered over 800 babies over the years. The sex-mad animal has without help saved its species from extinction. Found in the Island of Espanola, off coast of South America, the tortoise was made famous by Charles Darwin’s studies of its biodiversity.
“He’s a very sexually active male reproducer. He has contributed largely to repopulating the island,” said Washington Tapia, a tortoise specialist at Galapagos National Park, Ecuador. 50 years ago, there were only two males and 12 females on the island before Diego. He now lives at a tortoise breeding centre where he mates six females of his specie.
Diego weighs 82 kilograms and is nearly 35 inches long. Located at a zoo in California, USA, he was brought back to the Galapagos in 1976 and put in the captive breeding program.
After several genetic studies, scientists found that he was the father of nearly 40 percent of the offspring released into the wild on Espanola. A total of 2,000 tortoise have been released on the small island
Tapia added that, “I wouldn’t say the Galapagos tortoise 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.”
Diego species has also been introduced on the Island of Santa Fe (Ecuador), where a genetically similar one disappeared 150 years ago.