Sci-Tech

Diego the loverboy tortoise saved his species by having lots of sex

Big daddy! He's over 100 years old, but Diego the Galapagos giant tortoise is believed to have fathered 40 percent of his species.

Who's your daddy? If you're a tortoise on Espanola, the southernmost of the Galapagos Islands, it's probably this guy.

Giant tortoise Diego, a 175-pound (80 kilogram), 35-inch (90 centimeter) Casanova, has fathered at least 800 children, according to the Agence France Presse, and his active sex life has saved his species.

"He's a very sexually active male reproducer. He's contributed enormously to repopulating the island," Washington Tapia, a tortoise preservation specialist at Galapagos National Park, told the AFP.

Diego's species, Chelonoidis hoodensis, is only found on Espanola, where the creatures live in the wild. Fifty years ago, there were only 2 males and 12 females on the island, but in 1976, Diego was brought there from his namesake San Diego Zoo. He and the other males are part of a breeding program, but tests show Diego is the big daddy of them all.

"We did a genetic study and we discovered that he was the father of nearly 40 percent of the offspring released into the wild on Espanola," Tapia said.

It's good news for his kind. There were originally 15 species of giant tortoise native to the Galapagos, and three have gone extinct. That ain't happening on Diego's watch.