Bright Side

A 100-Year-Old Giant Tortoise Fathers 800 Babies and Saves His Species From Going Extinct

The species of the Española giant tortoise used to be in big danger because there were only 12 females and 3 males left in the world. Only 15 representatives of one species! And they managed to survive thanks to Diego, the tortoise who had a simple but important mission — to reproduce as much as possible.

We at Bright Side love good stories and want to share the amazing story of Diego the tortoise with you.

Meet the hero!

Several years ago, the population of the Española giant tortoise, the Chelonoidis hoodensis species, in particular, was about to go extinct — there were fewer than 20 representatives of its species left in the world, due to human activities.

These tortoises are the largest existing tortoises in the world and they only live in the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador and the islands of Aldabra in Tanzania. At that moment, Diego was living at the San Diego Zoo and didn’t even suspect that he was going to save the world from living without giant tortoises like him.

In the 1960s, Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry decided to start a special breeding program for saving the species — there were only 12 females and 2 males left on the island of Española in the Galápagos. That’s when a giant tortoise named Diego was chosen as the savior and called upon for help. Diego was brought to a special recreation center where he, and the rest of the tortoises, started to save their species.

Mission complete!

Now after 40 years, the breeding program has successfully been closed because there are enough tortoises to sustain the population of the species on the island. More than 2,000 new baby turtles have been born within this time and 40% of them are Diego’s descendants.

Diego is now more than 100 years old and is a happy father to 800 babies. He and other tortoises are going to be released into the wild in March 2020, where they will continue their peaceful family life. The population of the Chelonoidis hoodensis species is still endangered, but it is out of critical status now.

Are there endangered species in your neck of the woods? What does your country do to save them? Please tell us about it in the comments!