How many offsprings can a species produce in its lifetime? 3-4 or say, 10-15? But what if you hear that there is species which has given birth to as a many as 800 babies in its lifetime. Yes, that’s true! Diego, the tortoise has fathered as much as 800 babies over the years and is credited of saving the entire species of its breed.
As per a report on UK-based website dailymail.com, the tortoise is responsible for repopulating almost the entire island of Espanola in the Galapagos islands, off the coast of South America. If we believe the report, the tortoise is sexually very active and weighs 82 kilograms (13 stone) and is nearly 90 centimetres (35 inches) long. Diego is a Chelonoidis hoodensis, a rare species of Galapagos tortoise found in the wild only on Espanola. The old tortoise now resides at a tortoise breeding centre on nearby Santa Cruz island. Fortunately, he is still mating with his harem of six females at this old age.
Diego, who was initially located at a zoo in California, was brought back to the Galapagos in 1976 and put in the captive breeding program. As much as 2,000 tortoises have been released on the small island. The program has been largely successful as the species is no longer facing extinction. Interestingly, there are 15 species of giant tortoise known to have originated in the Galapagos. However, three of the species have gone extinct after falling victims to 18th-century pirates who plundered the islands’ fragile ecosystem.