The giant tortoise has fathered 800 babies, saving its species from extinction.
At the time, there were only two males and 12 females of the same species as Diego, the Chelonoidis hoodensis, alive on the island of Española in the Galápagos.
Diego was living in captivity at San Diego Zoo when he was selected to take part in the breeding programme.
Now, more than 50 years since the programme began, and after successfully producing more than 2,000 baby giant tortoises, Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry has decided to bring the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative to an end.
The good news was confirmed by a conservationists at Galápagos National Parks.
Washington Tapia, director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI), confirmed there were now “sufficient conditions” for the turtle population to return to normal.
“Based on the results of the last census conducted at the end of 2019 and all the data available since 1960, both of the island and its turtle population, we developed mathematical models with different possible scenarios for the next hundred years and in all the conclusion was that the island has sufficient conditions to keep the turtle population that will continue to grow normally, even without any new repatriation of juveniles.”
Over the years, Diego – who is now more than 100 years old – has become something of a pin-up for the conservation scheme, with around 40 percent of the tortoises repatriated to the island said to be related to him.
After more than eight decades away from his homeland, Diego – along with the other 14 original breeders – is set to return to the wild.
Source: Lad Bible