Go, Diego, go.
A 100-year-old Galapagos giant tortoise named Diego has fathered an estimated 800 offspring, and his lively libido seems to have pulled his species off of the extinction list, Agence France-Press reported.
Diego is a rare breed of tortoise known as Chelonoidis hoodensis, which lives only on the island of Espanola in the Galapagos.
At one time an estimated 5,000 of the tortoises lived on the island, Washington Tapia, a tortoise specialist at Galapagos National Park, told AFP. But over time the animals were driven to the brink of extinction. Initially, humans saw them as a food source. Later, rats, pigs and dogs preyed on them while goats and monkeys destroyed their habitat.
By 1970 there were only two males and 12 females of Diego’s species on Espanola, according to the Galapagos Conservancy. In 1976 experts at the San Diego Zoo, where Diego was living at the time, realized that he was one of the last of his kind in the world. They shipped him back to Espanola to see if he could work some magic.
And, abracadabra: Forty years later this randy reptile has repopulated the island, according to AFP. There are now more than 2,000 of the tortoises ― and 40 percent of them are Diego’s offspring.
The elderly tortoise’s sexploits may seem silly, but getting endangered animals to get it on is no small feat.
In an effort to get giant pandas to mate, zoos all over the world tried just about everything ― including showing them “panda porn” videos. But there was little success until a 2015 study published in the journal Nature Communications showed that pandas allowed to choose their own mates are more likely to do the deed and produce a cub.
Apparently, Diego is a bit less picky than a panda. As Tapia told AFP, “He’s a very sexually active male reproducer.”
Turtle, er, tortoise power!