This Giant Tortoise’s Sexploits Saved His Species From Extinction
The Debrief: Diego the giant tortoise saved his species from extinction.
A sex-dynamo of a tortoise is single-handedly responsible for fathering over 800 tortoise babies, and saving his entire species.
Though slow-moving in life, 100-year-old Diego apparently isn’t in the sack. His sexcapades over the past 50 years have fathered 40% of his species, bringing the giant tortoises native to the southern Galapagos Island of Espanola back from the brink of extinction.
Discovered in The San Diego Zoo (hence the cute name), Diego is believed to have arrived in the US sometime between 1950 and 1959. Since 1977 he’s been on Santa Cruz Island near Espanola, the dominant male of three whose only task is to while away the hours, bed his harem of six lady tortoises and repopulate Espanola with as many little Diegos as possible, as part of a captive breeding program to save his species, the Chelonoidis Hoodensis.
Around 2,000 tortoises have been released back on to Espanola. That's compared to the two males and 12 females that were there 50 years ago. Though the species isn’t in perfect health yet, according to Washington Tapia, a tortoise preservation specialist at Galapagos National Park, it’s 'a population that’s in pretty good shape – and growing, which is the most important.'
Three out of 15 species of the endangered giant tortoises of Galapagos have become extinct since the islands were discovered by 17th and 18th-century pirates who couldn’t resist eating them. Bizarrely, they were described as 'extraordinary[ily] large and fat, and so sweet, that no pullet eats more pleasantly.' Oh people of history, you utter weirdos.
The large, slow-moving, cactus-munching giant tortoises didn’t stand a chance. Thank god we've got Diego and his overactive tortoise-willy now though, repopulating the Galapagos with these big friendly giants.
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