Galapagos Catra: tortoise saves endangered species by having 800 young

We Diegos don't always come around the corner with all the joy of partying - sometimes we can more than just become the "inspiring muse" of a 2000s girl band. A namesake of mine from the Galapagos Islands decided work hard to repopulate the planet.

Calm down, we are not here to talk about a human rival to Mr. Catra: Diego in question is a male centenary of a variation of the Galapagos tortoise, which, by itself, has increased the population of the species on Española Island, most southern of the archipelago. “He is a sexually active male breeder. It has contributed enormously to repopulating the island, ”said Washington Tapia, a turtle preservation expert in the Galapagos National Park.

Fifty years ago, the species of turtle to which Diego belongs, Chelonoidis hoodensis, had only 2 males and 12 females remaining - they were widely scattered around Española Island. Diego wasn't there: he enjoyed the breeze at the San Diego Zoo in the United States. It is not known exactly who took him to live the American dream, but it is believed to have been sometime between 1900 and 1959 - a sneeze in a turtle's lifetime.

From California's doldrums to paradise on earth

800 descendants

In 1976 Diego was brought back to the Galapagos, but this time to Santa Cruz Island, where there is a center for treatment and reproduction of the archipelago's turtles. In all, there are 15 variations of the region's giant tortoises that are cared for in this place that charmed Charles Darwin, who studied the evolution of the species. Diego was the breeding male that caught the researchers' attention - not bad for a species called a nerd, don't you think? He lives in a "private suite" with a harem of six females.

In all, about 2, 000 Diego-like turtles have been released on Española since the preservation program began. And he, the alpha male of the group, is the father of at least 40 percent of that total. Thanks to this, the species is no longer at risk of extinction! Clap for Diego! It is believed, however, that the site has housed more than 5, 000 different specimens in the past, and scientists are working to recover all that.

To give you an idea of ​​Diego's vigor, just compare it with the Lonely George: this was the only male Galapagos Chelonoidis abingdoni that refused to breed in captivity and died in 2012, with little time left. more than 100 years of life. Diego weighs about 80 kg, measures 90 cm in length and can reach 1.5 meters in height if he stands and stretches his neck. And hopefully, he doesn't think about retiring.

The smile on the face of those who have to give 800 Christmas presents