Diego the Tortoise living in the Galapagos is a hero of his entire species as he had so much sex, he managed to save his kind from extinction. CBS News has the story:
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Diego the giant tortoise may be over 100 years old, but he’s been doing his best to save his species by having lots and lots of sex. Yes, it’s true. Diego, a Galapagos giant tortoise who lives on the island of Española, which is the southernmost in the Galapagos Archipelago, he has fathered an estimated 800 offspring, AFP reports. “He’s a very sexually active male reproducer. He’s contributed enormously to repopulating the island,” Washington Tapia, a tortoise preservation specialist at Galapagos National Park, told the news service. Diego belongs to the species Chelonoidis hoodensis, which is only native to Española.
The tortoise has had quite a journey in his long life, including decades on display at the San Diego Zoo. Dr. Harry Wegeforth, the zoo’s founder, brought Diego to San Diego after one of his two expeditions to the Galapagos in 1928 and 1933, according to the zoo’s website. Flash forward to the 1960s, and the species was declared critically endangered. There were only two males and 12 females remaining in the wild, and a search went on to find others that lived in zoos. The San Diego Zoo returned Diego to his home in 1977. He then joined his fellow tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
It was there that Diego proved he’s quite the Romeo. A study done on the turtle population six years ago revealed that this busy tortoise was the father of 40 percent of the new tortoises released back into the wild from the station. About 2,000 tortoises have been released in Española thanks to this breeding program, the species is no longer in danger of extinction. But the threats are very real. Out of the 15 species of giant tortoises that were native to the Galapagos Islands, three have sadly gone extinct. At a ripe old age, Diego is doing his best to make sure his descendants have a brighter future. The Galápagos tortoise complex or Galápagos giant tortoise complex (Chelonoidis nigra) are the largest living species of tortoise. Modern Galápagos tortoises can weigh up to 417 kg (919 lb).
Today, giant tortoises exist only on two remote archipelagos: the Galápagos Islands 1000 km due west of mainland Ecuador, and Aldabra in the Indian Ocean, 700 km east of Tanzania.The Galápagos tortoises are native to seven of the Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago about 1,000 km (620 mi) west of the Ecuadorian mainland. With lifespans in the wild of over 100 years, it is one of the longest-lived vertebrates. A captive individual lived at least 170 years. Spanish explorers, who discovered the islands in the 16th century, named them after the Spanish galápago, meaning “tortoise”. Shell size and shape vary between populations. On islands with humid highlands, the tortoises are larger, with domed shells and short necks; on islands with dry lowlands, the tortoises are smaller, with “saddleback” shells and long necks. Charles Darwin’s observations of these differences on the second voyage of the Beagle in 1835, contributed to the development of his theory of evolution.