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Prolific tortoise helps save his species from extinction

Deigo the giant tortoise single-handedly fathered 40% of his island’s population

Diego the giant tortoise helped save his species by proudly fathering about 40% of an island's tortoise population.
Diego the giant tortoise helped save his species by proudly fathering about 40% of an island's tortoise population. (CNN)

ESPAÑOLA ISLAND, Galapagos – A giant tortoise played a giant role in helping save his subspecies from extinction.

At more than 100 years old, Diego was shipped to the Galapagos from the San Diego Zoo as part of a special breeding program along with 14 other male tortoises.

Now officials with the Galapagos National Parks Service say Diego is the proud father of about 40% of the giant tortoise population on Española Island in the Galapagos Islands.

In the 1960′s, there were only two male and 12 female giant tortoises alive on the island. Now thanks to the program, the population is up to more than 2,000.

With his mission complete and likely very exhausted, Diego retired as a stud and will be released to the wild.