Sex-Crazed Tortoise Single-Handedly Saves His Species

Sex-Crazed Tortoise Single-Handedly Saves His Species
Science & Medicine

Meet Diego the Giant Tortoise. He may be over 100 years old, but that hasn’t stopped this sex-crazed tortoise from almost single-handedly saving his entire species. The tortoise from the Chelonoidis hoodensis subspecies, who hails from the island of Española, has fathered over 800 children. He is now the father of at least 40% of his species that are released into the wild. [1]

Diego spent a large chunk of his life living on display in the San Diego Zoo. But noting his strong sexual appetite, he was moved to the island in 1976 to help repopulate the dwindling species. Before he arrived, the island only contained two male and 12 female members of his species. But these tortoises were too far away from one another to reproduce. [2]

Enter Diego. He was placed in a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island where he shares a space with six other females.

Washington Tapia, a tortoise preservation specialist at Galapagos National Park, said of the centenarian’s exploits:

“He’s a very sexually active male reproducer. He’s contributed enormously to repopulating the island.”

Before Diego entered the scene, the subspecies was facing extinction. But thanks, in part, to Diego’s exploits, there are now 2,000 tortoises that have been released into the wild.

Related: Stanford Biologist Warns: Early Signs of Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction in Progress

Since 1859, the Galapagos Islands have lost between 100,000 and 200,000 due to tourism and the overexploitation of the subspecies. Today, only 20,000 wild tortoises with between 12 to 14 subspecies that are still on the island.

Tapia also stated:

I wouldn’t say (the species) is in perfect health, because historical records show there probably used to be more than 5,000 tortoises on the island. But it’s a population that’s in pretty good shape—and growing, which is the most important.

There are 15 species of giant tortoise that are thought to have originated on the Galapagos Islands. However, at least three have gone extinct, thanks to the exploits of 18th century pirates.

Diego has certainly showed himself to be a star, as not all endangered animals have contributed to the continuation of their species in his manner. The last member of the Chelonoidis abingdoni subspecies died in 2012 when he refused to breed. Because of his refusal to participate in carnal activity, he was dubbed “Lonesome George.”



[1] IFLScience