Diego is a giant tortoise. He has fathered 800 babies. By doing so, he singlehandedly saved its species from extinction.
In the 1960s, Diego was part of a breeding programme on Santa Cruz Island, off the southwestern coast of California. Back in the day there were 12 females and only 2 males on the island of Espanola in the Galapagos. His species is called Chelonoidis Hoodenis.
Almost 60 years later, more than 2000 giant tortoises were born and the breeding project has come to an end, successfully.
In a statement he said: “We developed mathematical models with different possible scenarios for the next hundred years and in all the conclusion was that the island has sufficient conditions to keep the turtle population that will continue to grow normally, even without any new repatriation of juveniles.”
Which is wonderful news since it has helped to restore the balance in the island’s ecosystem.
He added: “In addition to the recovery of the giant turtle population, which went from 15 to 2000 thanks to this program, the management actions implemented for the ecological restoration of the island, such as the eradication of introduced species and the regeneration of cacti through Galápagos Verde 2050 project, have helped to ensure that the island’s ecosystems currently have adequate conditions to support the growing population of turtles.”
Having lived already more than a 100 years, it is time for Diego to retire and go back to his home island. After almost 60 years of reproducing it’s believed that around the 40 percent of the tortoises is related to him. He will return to the Island along with 14 other original breeders.
They will be set to return to the wild. The release is planned in March 2020.
Diego, you sir the giant tortoise are a true hero!