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Ecuador: 'Diego,’ the tortoise who sired 800 babies and saved his species, returns home02:38

Ecuador: 'Diego,’ the tortoise who sired 800 babies and saved his species, returns home

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands
June 16, 2020 at 20:55 GMT -00:00 · Published

‘Diego,’ the world's most famous giant tortoise, returned to his native Espanola Island in the Galapagos archipelago on Monday after helping breed some 800 tortoise hatchlings in captivity, effectively saving his species from extinction.


Diego and 14 other turtles that were part of the project were subjected to a quarantine process and internal deworming. They were then fitted with an identification microchip before leaving Santa Cruz Island on board a boat bound for Espanola Island.

Diego had remained in captivity for decades, helping to multiply the endemic population of giant tortoises from 15 to 2,300, and in so doing becoming recognised as the saviour of his species.  


The repopulation project began in the 1960s after experts determined that the local population had been reduced to just two males and 12 females. They were joined by Diego who was brought in from a zoo in the US to help with the breeding programme. Diego is believed to have been picked up by explorers on Espanola island some time in the first half of the twentieth century.

Ecuador: 'Diego,’ the tortoise who sired 800 babies and saved his species, returns home02:38
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Mandatory credit: Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador

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‘Diego,’ the world's most famous giant tortoise, returned to his native Espanola Island in the Galapagos archipelago on Monday after helping breed some 800 tortoise hatchlings in captivity, effectively saving his species from extinction.


Diego and 14 other turtles that were part of the project were subjected to a quarantine process and internal deworming. They were then fitted with an identification microchip before leaving Santa Cruz Island on board a boat bound for Espanola Island.

Diego had remained in captivity for decades, helping to multiply the endemic population of giant tortoises from 15 to 2,300, and in so doing becoming recognised as the saviour of his species.  


The repopulation project began in the 1960s after experts determined that the local population had been reduced to just two males and 12 females. They were joined by Diego who was brought in from a zoo in the US to help with the breeding programme. Diego is believed to have been picked up by explorers on Espanola island some time in the first half of the twentieth century.

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