Giant tortoise Diego is home

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Quito: Diego the giant Galapagos tortoise whose tireless efforts are credited with almost single-handedly saving his once-threatened species, was put out to pasture Monday on his native island after decades of breeding in captivity, Ecuador’s environment minister said.

Diego was shipped out from the Galapagos National Park’s breeding programme on Santa Cruz to remote and unhabited Espanola in recent years, said the minister Paulo Proano.

“We are closing an important chapter” in the management of the park, Proano said on Twitter, adding that 25 tortoises including the prolific Diego, “are going back home after decades of reproducing in captivity and saving their species from extinction.”

Espanola welcomed them “with open arms,” he said.

Before being taken back by boat to Espanola, the 100-year-old Diego and the other tortoises had to undergo a quarantine period to avoid them carrying seeds from plants that are not native to the island.