Lustful giant tortoise saves his entire species by fathering over 800 babies

What do you call a male who has hooked up with scores of females and fathered hundreds of kids?  A player?  A Don Juan?  Disgusting?

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How about “savior”?  That’s what they’re calling Diego, a 100-year-old giant Galapagos tortoise whose reproductive prowess is credited with saving his species from extinction on their native island of Espanola in the Galapagos chain.

Diego resides in the Playboy Mansion of tortoisedom, an enclosure that he shares with six females, his partners in rebuilding a population that had once fallen to two males and 12 females, all of which were too spread out to reproduce.

Interestingly, Diego spent much of his life at the San Diego Zoo.  It’s not clear how he got to the U.S. He was probably captured by an American research party sometime in the first half of the 20th century.  Diego was returned to the Galapagos Islands in 1976 as part of the captive breeding program.

Diego’s reputation as King Stud was born about six years ago when DNA testing reveled that he was responsible for fathering 40% of the 2,000 tortoises released into the wild on Espanola.

Every species should be so lucky.  Another breed of giant tortoises went extinct in 2012 when the last male died.  Lonesome George, as he was known, had long refused to breed in captivity.

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