Giant tortoise Diego, a hero to his species, is home

Quito (AFP) - Diego, the giant tortoise from the Galapagos, whose tireless efforts are almost alone attributed to saving its once endangered species, was sent out to pasture on Monday after decades of captive breeding on its home island, said the Ecuadorian Minister of the Environment.
Diego was shipped from the Galapagos National Park breeding program on Santa Cruz to remote and uninhabited Espanola.
"We're closing an important chapter in the park's administration," said Minister Paulo Proano on Twitter, adding that 25 turtles, including the prolific Diego, "after decades of captive breeding and saving their species from extinction home to return. ""
Espanola greeted them "with open arms," ​​he said.
Before 100-year-old Diego and the other turtles were brought back to Espanola by boat, they had to go through a quarantine period to avoid being able to carry seeds from plants that are not native to the island.
Diego weighs approximately 80 kilograms, is almost 90 centimeters long and 1.5 meters tall when he really stretches his legs and neck.
Diego's contribution to the Santa Cruz Island program was particularly noteworthy. Park Ranger believed he was the patriarch of at least 40 percent of the 2,000 turtle population.
About 50 years ago, only two men and 12 women of the Diego species lived on Espanola, and they were too common to reproduce.
Diego was brought out of the San Diego Zoo in California to participate in the breeding program that was set up in the mid-1960s to save his species Chelonoidis hoodensis.
The national park believes that it was taken by a scientific expedition from the Galapagos Islands in the first half of the 20th century.
Ecuador's Galapagos Islands in the Pacific became famous through the studies by the English naturalist Charles Darwin about their breathtaking biodiversity in the 19th century.

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