Diego, the centennial turtle that saved his species with 800 children, retires

Diego He has earned his golden retirement. With 100 years recently, this giant tortoise will return to its natural habitat eight decades after being forced out of the Spanish island (Galapagos, Ecuador). It was in the mid-fifties, when the indiscriminate hunting of these animals to sell them on the black market caused this species to remain in serious danger of extinction. However, Diego was instrumental in saving his species … by becoming a stallion.

In the fifties, scientists were able to rescue 14 turtles of the species Chelonoidis hoodensis, among which was Diego. Fearing that they could disappear from the face of the Earth, they decided to take them to the breeding center of the island of Santa Cruz with the aim of strengthening its decimated population. Diego, in fact, was repatriated from a San Diego zoo, where he was taken in the thirties.

But the problem of the disappearance of this giant tortoise species went far beyond what a species supposes to cease to exist: in its absence, the woody plants began to grow in the ground, which caused animals such as iguana, sea lion or albatross to lose space, causing these native animals to also begin reduce its population, and may cause a future disappearance of its species.

That's how in 1976 it was decided to launch a playback program of this species of turtle, in which Diego had much to say. When it was put into operation, there were only two males and 12 females of its species alive: 44 years later, the population consists of more than 2,000 animals, of which approximately 40% are descendants of Diego. Or, put another way, of the 2,000 turtles, about 800 are his direct children.

Diego has managed to have more than 800 descendants. (EFE)

Its procreative capacity has allowed its species, in clear danger of extinction, to enjoy good health and that it could even be returned to its natural habitat, managing to repopulate the Spanish island to prevent this impressive species from becoming extinct. The breeding program was made up of 15 different turtles, but Diego became fundamental with his ability to increase the population of the island.

Experts consider the plan a success, but they want to continue monitoring it to see how it develops in the coming years. To this day, the problem is not in the survival rate – located in more than 52% since they are returned from the breeding center to their natural habitat – but in his DNA: and it is that if a good part of the species belongs to the same 'father', this is negative, because the genetic variability ends of the species.

After being able to repopulate its species, condemned to disappear, Diego will return to nature with homework done. You will return to the Spanish island to live in its natural habitat 80 years after having to leave it. At 100, he will live a golden retreat, which will come after he 'detoxifies': should get rid of seeds or plants who have eaten in Santa Cruz and that do not exist on the Spanish island to avoid a negative impact on the area.