After Siring Hundreds, Dirty Old Man Goes Home

Farewell, Diego, lots and lots of female tortoises knew ye
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2020 9:21 AM CST
After Siring Hundreds, Dirty Old Man Goes Home
Diego has sired hundreds of offspring. Galapagos National Park authorities say it is impossible to know his age, but they believe he is well over 100 and estimate Diego is the father of 40% to 45% of the 1,781 tortoises born in the breeding program.   (AP Photo/Galapagos National Park)

He has what the BBC calls a "species-saving sex drive," and after having fathered up to 800 offspring in the pursuit of bringing his species back from the brink, Diego the Galapagos tortoise is headed back home to the island of Española. There, he'll join a bolstered population of about 1,800 tortoises, but it might feel a little like a family reunion: Park rangers reckon that the lusty Diego fathered at least 40% of them. "He's contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Española," says the Galápagos National Parks service's director. "There's a feeling of happiness to have the possibility of returning that tortoise to his natural state." Diego was part of a now-concluded breeding program on Santa Cruz island, and it's believed that he hasn't set foot on his home turf in 80 or so years. Officials believe the old lech is more than 100 years old. (More giant tortoise stories.)

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