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Diego, the super male who saved his species in the Galapagos


Photo: AFP

The population of giant tortoises of the Spanish island in the Galapagos Archipelago Ecuador has a lot to thank Diego, the super macho who brought their species from extinction when reproducing in captivity about 800 offspring..

"It's a very sexually active male player. Has contributed greatly to the repopulation of the island, "he says Washington Tapia told AFP, adviser to the Galapagos National Park (GNP) for the restoration of turtles.

This 'sex symbol' of the species Chelonoidis hoodensis has more than 100 years and shares with six females a pen of breeding center tortoises of PNG in Puerto Ayora, the island's capital Santa Cruz, one of the largest in the archipelago located in the Pacific.

Repatriated in 1976 from the San Diego Zoo US which gives its name, this issue is the most dominant of the three breeding males in the Spanish, weighs about 80 kilos and can measure up to 1.50 meters high if it While stretching the legs and especially his neck

Rescued species

nearly five decades in Spanish, in southern Galapagos -about 970 km from the coast of Ecuador, ago were found only two males and twelve females of that species, then for the last surviving natives of the place.

"They were scattered throughout the island, which was impossible that they could play," notes Tapia, who refers to Diego as the "male 3." "I'm no friend name them turtles because this is not a zoo ; is a conservation tool, "he says

Father of 40% of the offspring

Before the discovery of a few copies, an international campaign allowed to locate in the Californian Diego Zoo and incorporate a captive breeding program, without the scientific world returnee imagine that the turtle would become savior of his species.

"Until about six years ago, we did a genetic study, we found that he was the father of nearly 40% of the young repatriated to Spanish," said Tapia, director of the Initiative for the Restoration of the Giant Turtles NGO American Galapagos Conservancy.

About 2,000 turtles have been returned to Spanish, which allowed the hoodensis Chelonoidis cease to be endangered.

Diego counterpart George

Quelonios variety of Diego have been brought even to the island of Santa Fe, where more than 150 years ago the species disappeared Chelonoidis spp. Both types have morphological and genetic similarities, according to experts PNG.

Diego is the counterpart George, the last of the species Chelonoidis abigdoni who died in 2012 after refusing to mate with females in captivity related subspecies.

George, emblem of the archipelago takes its name from the turtles giant tortoises and whose body lies embalmed in the United States, was found "too late", in 1971 on Pinta island, and "never could play," said Tapia.

But scientists have found genes hybrids with the missing variety, so the PNG plans to repopulate Pinta with no pure species of turtles George, known as Lonesome George for his refusal to females.

A year ago, the PNG announced the identification of a new species of giant tortoise on the island of Santa Cruz, which he named Chelonoidis donfaustoi and has "few hundred" copies.

The name honors Donfaustoi Fausto Llerena, who for three decades took care of George.

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