Giant Galapagos tortoises released after saving their species

Sixteen giant tortoises who helped save their species from the brink of extinction are released back into the wild.

A giant Galapagos tortoise who has been credited with saving his species from extinction has officially entered retirement. 

Diego and 15 other male tortoises have returned to their native Espanola, one of Ecuador’s Galapagos islands. 

The tortoises were put out to pasture on Monday after decades of breeding in captivity on Santa Cruz Island.

The breeding programme was a success, producing more than 2,000 giant tortoises since it began in the 1960s. 

Diego, aged 100, is thought to have fathered hundreds of tortoises, around 40 percent of the 2,000 giant tortoises alive today.

Around 50 years ago, there were only two males and 12 females of Diego’s species alive on Espanola. 

To save his species, Chelonoidis hoodensis, Diego was brought in from California’s San Diego Zoo to take part in a breeding programme.

The Galapagos National Park Service believes Diego was taken from his native Espanola in the early 20th century by a scientific expedition.

This video was produced and edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed’s Katya Bohdan.