Giant Tortoise Who Saved Species From Extinction by Fathering 800 Babies Is Retiring | 22 Words

The legendary tortoise who managed to save his species from extinction by fathering over 800 babies is said to be finally retiring from his frisky duties.

Keep scrolling for the full story, and to read more about the incredible - and impressive - impact Diego has had on the future of his species.

Diego is one accomplished tortoise.

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The giant Galápagos tortoise made headlines last year with his mischievous, yet groundbreaking antics with the female tortoises.

Now, the Galápagos tortoise has been endangered for quite some time.

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Native to the Galápagos Islands, just off the coast of Ecuador, the species has suffered tremendously at the hands of hunting and habitat destruction over the years.

They were mercilessly hunted as food by pirates, whalers, and merchantmen during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries...

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And other species such as feral dogs, cats, rats, and cattle have continued to pose a threat to their food supply and eggs.

So, as a result, the species is now classed as endangered.

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More than 100,000 of these tortoises are estimated to have been killed off in the wild, according to National Geographic, and their only real chance of survival is now in captivity.

In the 1960s, efforts were doubled down to save the species.

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At the time, there were only 2 males and twelve females left in the wild on Española - so immediate action was taken to protect them.

A breeding program was launched.

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San Diego Zoo started the Giant Tortoise Restoration Incentive, which had the aim to revive the dwindling numbers of the species.

The tortoises were removed from the island...

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And were brought to the zoo to embark upon the incentive... To put it simply, they were required to start having a lot of sex. There are worse incentives to be a part of, aren't there?

But, remarkably, it has been a roaring success.

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Since the launch of the program, at least 2,000 tortoises have been born and brought back to the island.

And this is where our friend Diego comes in.

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For more than fifty years, trusty old Diego, who is believed to be over 100-years-old and weighs in at 175 pounds, has been the undisputed star of the breeding program.

He has been a busy boy...

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Diego's contribution to the program has been particularly noteworthy, with zookeepers believing him to be responsible for around forty percent of the 2,000 tortoise hatchlings.

That's around 800 babies.

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Way to go, Diego!

Obviously, people are very impressed with Diego's efforts.

I have to admit, for a creature of his age and metabolism, he has done tremendously well for himself.

During his fifty-year run, Diego has become somewhat of a legend...

We can only dream of achieving what Diego has achieved.

But, sadly, all legends must come to an end.

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After all these years, Diego's long-lasting run as the chief stud of the breeding program is wrapping up.

It is now time for the frisky reptile to retire.

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Thanks to decades of dedicated romping, Ecuador's Environmental Ministry has decided that the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative can be brought to an end.

Washington Tapia, director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative spoke out on the success.

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"Based on the results of the last census conducted at the end of 2019 and all the data available since 1960, 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..."

This means that Diego's sex-filled days are over...

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And the accomplished tortoise is set to be returned back to his native Española.

“We are closing an important chapter."

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About the management of the park, minister Paulo Proano said on Twitter that twenty-five tortoises, including the prolific Diego, “are going back home after decades of reproducing in captivity and saving their species from extinction." Española welcomed them “with open arms," he added.

Diego is set to live out the rest of his days in his natural habitat...

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Though we're not sure how much romping he'll be able to manage... Fifty years is a long time.

And, despite the staff at the zoo having to say a final goodbye to Diego...

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They are happy to see him return to his home island. “He’s contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Espanola," Jorge Carrion, director of Galapagos National Parks, told AFP. “There’s a feeling of happiness to have the possibility of returning that tortoise to his natural state." For more on tortoises, keep scrolling...