The Galapagos tortoise is the largest tortoise species, weighing 900 lb. They live on the islands with the same name. As many as ten people were left in the wild at that time. Because Diego is the last male of his kind, things have changed over time.
There were many people at the San Diego Zoo when Diego was living there when they found out the species (Chelonoidis hoodensis) was almost extinct. They took him back to Espanola island as part of a breeding program.
Diego was able to save its kind. It’s a good thing that “he’s made a big contribution to the lineage that we’re bringing back to Espanola,” Jorge Carrion, the park director in Espanola, told AFP. “There’s a sense of happiness that there’s a chance to return that tortoise to his natural state.”
In 1976, Diego helped start a breeding program for tortoises. Since then, Diego has helped more than 2000 babies be born. And what’s even more exciting is that his “lively libido” helped get the species off the extinction list, AFP said. “About 1,800 tortoises have been brought back to Espanola, and now we have about 2,000 tortoises born naturally,” Carrion said.
How old Diego is not clear because he weighs about 190 pounds, but experts say he’s at least 100 years old. Nobody knows how or when he came to the US. As an expert on tortoises, Washington Tapia thinks he must have been taken from Espanola sometime between 1900 and 1959 by a scientific expedition.
Thanks to Diego, the species is no longer at risk of going extinct.