Diego, a 100-year-old Galapagos Tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis), from the Galapagos island, is set to be released to his native island of Espanola this March, according to the Galapagos National Parks service (PNG).
Park rangers on Santa Cruz Island, California, believe Diego's contribution to the program has resulted in him being the patriarch of at least 40 percent of their 2,000 tortoise population!
Diego is a hero, he single-handedly saved his species by fathering 800 offsprings!
Jorge Carrion, the PNG director, said, "About 1,800 tortoises have been returned to Espanola and now with natural reproduction, we have approximately 2,000 tortoises. This shows that they are able to grow, they are able to reproduce, they are able to develop."
And just to make this even more impressive, around 50 years ago, there were only two males and 12 females of Diego's species currently living on Espanola. Plus, they were too spread out to actually reproduce.
Story via DailyMail
Diego was brought in from California's San Diego Zoo, in the mid-1960s, to join a breeding program to save his species. And now, almost eight decades after first being extracted, Diego's mission is accomplished.
Just look at that cheeky grin! Diego is set to be released back to his native land, but but returning to Espanola, he must go through a quarantine period to avoid carrying seeds from plants that are not native to the island.
Mr Carrion adds, "He's contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Espanola. There's a feeling of happiness to have the possibility of returning that tortoise to his natural state."
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