Species Saving Giant Tortoise Readying Return to Original Habitat

A 100-year-old tortoise named Diego, responsible for the fertilization of 800 offspring and potentially saving one species of giant tortoise in the Galapagos, now is being prepared to return to his original habitat of Espanola Island in March after spending eight decades apart from it.

In the first week of January, Diego began the quarantine process for his eventual reintroduction to his original habitat in order to eliminate the risk of seed-dispersal from plants not native to the island.

This type of giant tortoise went from a critical state of 15 specimens total, including Diego, to 2,000 specimens currently, thanks to the Giant Turtle Restoration program.

Diego lived for 30 years at the San Diego Zoo in California before becoming part of the captive-breeding program. Diego weights about 80 kilos, is just under a meter in length and can reach 1.5 meters in height when stretched out. One of the main causes for the disappearance of this type of tortoise was pirates, who used them as food. (AP)