Horny Tortoise Who Saved His Species from Extinction Gets to Retire
Galapagos National Park
6 Famous Animals We've Mourned

Diego was one of three males who procreated with 12 females in a 40-year captive breeding program for Espanola tortoises.

Not all heroes wear capes; some wear thick shells and go by the name Diego.

The 175-pound Galapagos tortoise, who's over 100 years old, is able to retire knowing he helped save his species from extinction after fathering a reported 40 percent of all tortoises on Española Island. Diego is a Chelonoidis hoodensis, a species found only on Española Island.

Last week, Ecuador's Environmental Ministry announced its decision to end the Galapagos Conservancy's 40-year captive breeding program for Española tortoises after the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) and Galapagos Conservancy -- as part of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI) -- declared the program had met its restoration objectives.

"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 tortoise population -- we developed mathematical models with different possible scenarios for the next hundred years," said Washington Tapia, director of the GTRI, according to a Galapagos Conservancy press release. "The conclusion was that the island has sufficient conditions to maintain the tortoise population, which will continue to grow normally -- even without any new repatriation of juveniles."

Diego was one of three males who procreated with 12 females in the program, which was based on the archipelago's island of Santa Cruz. According to the conservancy, all 15 tortoises will be returned to Española in March.

According to Fox 13 Tampa Bay, Tapia said back in 2016 that Diego was "a very sexually active male" who had contributed "enormously to repopulating the island." At the time, he was estimated to have already fathered 800 offspring.

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