Galapagos tortoise fathers 800, saves species

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Caption
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

He’s old but tireless. Passionate, but not all that attractive.
But he is apparently popular with the females.
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Diego is a Galapagos giant tortoise that has fathered an estimated 800 offspring, according to the AFP. He is more than 100 years old and has almost singlehandedly rebuilt the species on their native island of Espanola, the southernmost post in the Galapagos archipelago.
“He’s a very sexually active male reproducer,” said Washington Tapia, a tortoise preservation specialist at Galapagos National Park. “He’s contributing enormously to repopulating the island.”
A genetic test four years ago showed “that he was the father of nearly 40 percent of the offspring released into the wild on Espanola.”

Diego took his name from the San Diego Zoo, where Tapia says he was taken “sometime between 1900 and 1959 by a scientific expedition.” He was returned to the Galapagos Islands in 1976 to work in a captive breeding program, since his species had dwindled to two males and 12 females on Espanola.
Today, Tapia says, at least 2,000 tortoises have been released into the wild.
“It’s a population that’s in pretty good shape, and growing, which is the most important thing,” he said.

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