Sex-crazy Galapagos tortoise fathers 800, saves species
(NEWSER) — The most tireless and passionate proponent of saving the Galapagos tortoise from extinction is ancient, lecherous, and not particularly attractive, but those attributes are apparently a big hit with the ladies. Gentle reader, meet Diego, the lusty 100-plus-year-old tortoise who has helped bring his kind back from the brink of extinction—by having copious amounts of sex with any female in sight, reports the AFP. « He’s a very sexually active male reproducer, » says Washington Tapia, an actual tortoise preservation specialist at Galapagos National Park. « He’s contributing enormously to repopulating the island. » How enormously? Diego is babydaddy to an estimated 800 offspring, or to better put it, a genetic test four years ago showed « that he was the father of nearly 40% of the offspring released into the wild on Espanola, » the tortoises’ native island.
Diego is a globe-trotting charmer, taking his name from the San Diego Zoo, where Tapia says he was taken « sometime between 1900 and 1959 by a scientific expedition. » He was returned to the Galapagos Islands in 1976 to get down to work in a captive breeding program, as his kind had at one point dwindled to two males and 12 females on Espanola. Diego, it turns out, takes his job seriously. « Tough work, but some tortoise has to do it, » the AFP snarks, while the Houston Chronicle runs through a primer on tortoise mating that includes the tidbit that « female giant tortoises are silent while the males make a sound similar to that of a cow’s ‘moo.' » Today, at least 2,000 tortoises have been released into the wild. “It’s a population that’s in pretty good shape, and growing, which is the most important,” Tapia says. (More on the Galapagos tortoises’ fight back from the brink here.)