Diego the tortoise of Galapagos has over 100 offspring

Jan 2, 2018

Almost everyone knew Lonesome George, a global icon of conservation. He was the last remaining member of his species and with an inability to reproduce, it remained that way until his sad recent death.

However, those going on Galapagos cruises now have a new hero in the shape and shell of Diego the tortoise. And unlike Lonesome George, Diego doesn’t seem to have any problems in the reproduction department. He is thought to have sired hundreds of offspring and has brought the Espanola Island tortoise back from the brink of extinction. So, not so much a dying breed as one resurrected.

Diego was plucked from his home on the Galapagos sometime between 1900 and 1930 but was returned to the islands in 1975 from San Diego Zoo. At that time there were only two males and twelve females left in the entire species. Diego proved to be a little bit too macho though and bullied the other males he came into contact with. He did this so much that he had to be moved to his very own pen. But thankfully he was a bit friendlier with the females.

Diego may now be well over a hundred years old but he is also believed to be the father of about 40 to 45% of all the 1,781 tortoises born in the breeding programme on Espanola Island. Not bad going for someone who is only 90cm long.
 

Diego may now be well over a hundred years old but he is also believed to be the father of about 40 to 45% of all the 1,781 tortoises born in the breeding programme on Espanola Island. Not bad going for someone who is only 90cm long.

In all, there are ten native tortoise species remaining on the Galapagos Islands out of an estimated fourteen original species. If you’re lucky enough to go on a Galapagos cruise as part of a Galapagos custom vacation, then you’ll be able to see some of these magnificent species in their natural environments.

The numbers of Galapagos tortoises remaining was down to around 3,000 in 1974 but is now back up to a more respectable 20,000, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Diego. His offspring have been successfully reproducing in the wild on Española and Santa Cruz Island since 1990, so his legacy continues to grow.

So, if you’re on a Cruise, keep an eye out for the legendary Diego, and if you see any tortoises at all, there’s a good chance they’re related. Lonesome George may be gone but there is a new hero in a half shell to be seen on Galapagos cruises.
 

Take a look of these tour programs:

1. Galapagos Cruise Itinerary:  Deluxe Vessel Traveling From Central to Southern Islands
2. Ecuador Tour: Avenue of Volcanoes Tour
3. Peru tour: Sacred Valley and Titicaca Lake Tour
4. Galapagos Tour: Central Islands Galapagos land Tour
5. Amazon Rainforest Tour: Deep Rainforest Experience Tour

Andre Robles
Andre Robles
Andre Robles is an expert in everything South America, his passion for the region and exploring off the beaten path makes his travel writing both useful and interesting. He has written for several mainstream publications and you can read his guides on Ecuador, Peru, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. Andre is also an accomplished photographer and has been recognized as one of the best wildlife photographers in the region, his photos have been featured in National Geographic and other journals. As a travel agent Andre specializes in curating unique experiences, crafting tailor made itineraries and helping visitors make the best of their vacation, always putting the experience first
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