Horny 100 Year Old Turtle From San Diego Helped Save His Species


A giant tortoise from the San Diego Zoo was sent to the Galapagos Islands in 1976 to help restore the species that was almost extinct. "Diego" is now 100 years old and because of his unstoppable libido has fathered 800 of the tortoises now populating the Islands.

In 1965 the giant tortoise species Chelonoidis hoodensis was almost extinct. The tortoises, which are native to the Galápagos Islands, were given a second chance in 1970 when researchers began a program to restore the giant tortoises on Española Island in the Galápagos.

At the time, only two males and 12 females remained, so the Galapagos National Parks directors went looking for help. In 1976 their search led them to the San Diego Zoo where a giant tortoise named Diego had been living for the past 30 years.

Diego, who had been taken from the Islands and brought to the U.S. during the 1930s, was an ideal prospect for the program because of his unstoppable libido, and apparently Diego excelled at the task. 50 years after his arrival and a great deal of copulation later, Diego is the proud pop of roughly 40% of the Islands Chelonoidis hoodensis inhabitants -- that's 800 tortoises!

Diego was one of 15 male tortoises helping to repopulate the Islands. As to why Diego was more prolific than most of the males, James P. Gibbs, a professor of environmental and forest biology at the State University of New York in Syracuse, told the New York Times that Diego has “a big personality — quite aggressive, active and vocal in his mating habits and so I think he has gotten most of the attention.”

Now that there are 2,000 tortoises thriving on the Island, Diego will be retiring from the program but it's reported that he could easily live another 20 years.

“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.”

Photos: Getty Images

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