Galapagos National Park

HEAVY CARGO: Diego weighs about 175 pounds!

A giant tortoise named Diego recently went “back” to the wild! Strapped to a special backpack worn by a park ranger, Diego returned home for the first time in 87 years.

Diego was born on Española, one of the Galápagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean. In the early 1930s, Diego was taken from the island to live in a zoo in California. 

By 1970, only 14 giant Española tortoises were left in the wild. Scientists decided to start a breeding program on another Galápagos island. To help save the species, Diego was flown there from the U.S. zoo. The program was a success. The population of Española tortoises is now about 2,000—and at least 800 of them are Diego’s children!

Last June, he was returned to Española to begin his retirement. After Diego’s short boat ride, a ranger carried the slow-moving reptile 1.5 miles to his native habitat.