Imagine being a daddy to around 800 kids. For most of us that is next to impossible, but for Diego the giant tortoise, that is life. As CNN reported, the 100-year-old tortoise has fathered about 800 offspring during his time in a breeding program at the Galapagos National Park. But after decades of being a part of the program, he is now getting to retire to his native home on the island of Española.
Ecuador’s environment minister, Paulo Proaño Andrade, sent out a special tweet to commemorate Diego’s retirement. In the text, Andrade revealed that Diego was one of fifteen tortoises from Española who would be returning to their home after spending decades breeding in captivity – all in an effort to save the species from extinction. He mentioned that “Their island receives them with open arms.”
Cerramos un capítulo importante en la gestión del @parquegalapagos, 15 tortugas de #Española, incluyendo a #Diego, regresan a casa tras décadas de reproducirse en cautiverio y salvar a su especie de la extinción. Su isla las recibe con los brazos abiertos. (Noticia en desarrollo) pic.twitter.com/M4a4maQm9E
— Paulo Proaño Andrade (@PauloProanoA) June 15, 2020
Besides the tweet from the environment minister, Diego also received acknowledgment from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
They tweeted Monday about the significance of Diego’s retirement, saying, “The giant tortoise is over 100 years old and produced around 800 offspring.”
👏🏻👏🏻 Diego regresó hoy a su ambiente natural en la isla Española del archipiélago de Galápagos 🇪🇨, tras décadas de reproducirse en cautiverio para salvar a su especie.
— Programa ONU Medio Ambiente (@unep_espanol) June 15, 2020
Diego’s journey first began back in 1960 when he was reassigned from the San Diego Zoo to the breeding program in the Galapagos. When Diego first arrived around 50 years ago at The Galapagos National Parks services, there were only 2 males and 12 females of the tortoise species left alive on the island. However, after Diego was introduced the population has been able to grow to well over 2,000.
Park services believe that Diego may well have fathered about 40% of the total population. Quite a feat when you bring in the mathematical calculations.
Diego is a big guy and tips the scale at around 175 pounds. He’s also close to 35 inches long, meaning he can stretch out to a height of 5 feet.
Diego comes from The Galapagos Islands which are located off the coast of Ecuador around 563 miles offshore. The islands are well-known for being the place where Charles Darwin had a breakthrough that resulted in his Theory of Evolution.
The islands are a popular destination for people to come and visit the rare indigenous species who call the mostly uninhabited islands home.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.