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12 January 2020 02:39

St Helena Government 1/5 Jonathan takes a bath Vet Joe Hollins gives the 184-year-old tortoise an overdue clean.

galápagos islands

Tortoise who saved species by fathering hundreds returns to Galapagos

A LEGENDARY giant tortoise that saved his entire species after fathering 800 babies is to be returned to the wild. 4 Diego, pictured, is the legendary tortoise that had over 800 offspring and helped save its species Credit: EPA The breeding programme that made his libido world famous has produced over 2,000 hatchlings, around 40 per cent of which call Diego their dad, according to The Galápagos National Parks service. Park director, Jorge Carrion, told AFP: "He's contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Española. A tortoise who helped save his species from extinction by having hundreds of children will be released into his homeland after spending eight decades away, conservation authorities have said. Diego earned a reputation for having lots of sex during a captive breeding scheme for giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, and the 100-year-old has now reportedly fathered over 800 children.

galápagos islands

He will soon be released into the wild on his native Espanola Island after officials said the programme – which recruited Diego from San Diego Zoo four decades ago – has been a success. Around 40 per cent of the new tortoises on the island are Diego's descendents, according to Galapagos Conservancy. "Diego, who is over 100 years old, will return to his home island almost eight decades after being extracted from it," the conservation body said. Jonathan the Giant Tortoise has his first bath after 184 years Show all 5 left Created with Sketch. Jonathan the Giant Tortoise has his first bath after 184 years 1/5 Jonathan takes a bath Vet Joe Hollins gives the 184-year-old tortoise an overdue clean.

galápagos islands

St Helena Government 1/5 Jonathan takes a bath Vet Joe Hollins gives the 184-year-old tortoise an overdue clean. St Helena Government 2/5 Jonathan takes a bath The vet gently washed his enormous shell. St Helena Government 3/5 Jonathan takes a bath Jonathan is one of many Giant Tortoises residing at the Plantation House on St Helena. St Helena Government 5/5 Jonathan takes a bath The vet says looking after Jonathan, the oldest living land animal in the world, is "an honour". The population of the Chelonoidis hoodensis species has gone from 15 to 2,000 since the scheme started around 40 years ago, according to Jorge Carrion, the Galapagos National Park director.

The national park service believes Diego left the Galapagos Islands 80 years ago during a scientific expedition, the BBC reported. He became one of three male tortoises involved in the breeding scheme – which involved 12 females – after being recruited from the US zoo where he had been living for 30 years, Galapagos Conservancy said. Diego is currently in quarantine before he returns into the wild on Espanola Island along with other tortoises in March, according to authorities. "The island has sufficient conditions to maintain the tortoise population, which will continue to grow normally," said Washington Tapia, the director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative. A species of giant tortoise that was believed extinct was discovered on another Galapagos island earlier this year, Ecuador's government said. When the 100-year-old began his womanising ways, there were only two males and 12 females alive on the islands. "He's contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Espanola," Jorge Carrion, the park's director, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). It's believed Diego was taken from his natural home about 80 years ago.