Go Diego Go! Galapagos Tortoise Finally Retires After Saving His Species
Diego the Galapagos giant tortoise will be released back into the wild after saving his species from extinction by mating.
The 100-year-old Casanova is believed to have fathered nearly 800 descendants after being captured from the wild nearly 50 years ago.
It is believed Diego was taken from his native Espanola Island in the Galapagos in the first half of the 20th Century during a scientific expedition.
Pirates decimated the population of Galapagos tortoises during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
He was one of two males on the island at the time. There were 12 females as well, but the 14 tortoises were too spread out to reproduce, according Agence France-Presse.
Diego was taken to California's San Diego Zoo with the other 14 adults as part of the their breeding program in the mid-1960s.
He will now be returned to Espanola in March, the Galapagos Nations Parks Service said.
"About 1,800 tortoises have been returned to Espanola and now with natural reproduction we have approximately 2,000 tortoises," Jorge Carrion, the park's director, told AFP.
"This shows that they are able to grow, they are able to reproduce, they are able to develop."
Park services believe Diego to be the patriarch to at least 40 per cent of the 2000-strong population.
The stud weighs about 80 kilograms and is nearly 1.5 metres tall when stretching his neck.
Diego will have to spend a period of time in quarantine before returning to Espanola to make sure he doesn't carry back any foreign seeds or plants.