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How this sexy tortoise saved his species

How this sexy tortoise saved his species”

Diego, part of the Chelonoidis hoodensis species that lives on the Galapagos island of Espanola, was one of the tortoises brought to the US between 1928 and 1933 and was later placed into the Charles Darwin Research Station for protection after the species was declared critically endangered in the 1960s, according to the San Diego Zoo.

The Galapagos National Parks (PNG) service believes that 40 per cent of the current population was fathered by the promiscuous critter, who resided in the San Diego Zoo in California for several decades.

Diego, believed to be taken from the Galapagos Islands, was recruited along with 14 other adults for a captive breeding programme and will be returned to his native island of Espanola in March, the Galapagos National Parks service (PNG) said yesterday.

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However, he's not the most successful tortoise. The third male has contributed virtually nothing to the repopulation efforts.

The hope of its kind, Chelonoidis abingdoni, faded when Lonesome George died in 2012 at more than 100 years old.

As the figures show, Diego is not the most prolific male tortoise in the park.

Diego is loud, aggressive, and demonstrative.

The most famous species unique to the Galapagos include the giant tortoise, marine iguana, flightless cormorant and the Galapagos penguin - the only penguin species to be found in the Northern Hemisphere. "The social hierarchies and relationships of giant tortoises are very poorly known".

So what is it that's made this long-necked, beady-eyed bachelor so popular? Fully stretched out, he extends to about five feet, and weighs about 176 pounds.

The elephant or Galapagos tortoise is a species which is endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

According to the GTRI, in the mid-1800s the tortoises served as food for buccaneers and whalers and were also hunted for oil. They could survive inside ships for upto a year, and so a large number were picked up from the islands.Not all were eaten - they would be cast off a ship when it needed to lose ballast.

Diego's contribution to the Santa Cruz Island program was particularly noteworthy.



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