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What do all the girls see in Diego?

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Views and Reviews

Sex appeal is in the eye of the beholder. I grew up all mooney-eyed over James Dean, Marlon Brando and — although I hate to admit it now — Tab Hunter. I didn’t understand why the generation before me thought Rudolph Valentino was so hot.

Women get older, but we don’t get blind and we check out all the new young idols, just like the men do, and since it was introduced in 1985, I’ve marveled at some of People magazines’ Sexiest Man Alive covers. Attractive yes, but the best of the best? Eye of the beholder and all that.

Of course, none of them can hold a candle to Diego, who must surely be the sexiest creature on the planet. Diego is one of a sub-species of tortoise from the island of Espanola in the Galapagos islands. He arrived at the San Diego Zoo in the 1930s as a young adult and resided there happily until the 1970s, when a plea came from Galapagos wildlife officials.

His species was on the brink of extinction: only two males and 12 females remained. After testing confirmed that Diego was the right kind of guy, he was returned to the island to join the other 14 tortoises in a breeding program.

Diego and his buddies have been hard at work and the population is now up to more than 2,000. Diego fathered 800 to 1,000 of them, or 40%.

It’s not quite clear what Diego has that the other males don’t, but whatever it is, the ladies dig it. Nor is it known for sure how old Diego is, but he is probably over 100, still in his prime for his breed since they live to about 150.

Diego has almost single-handedly (well, whatever) saved his entire species from extinction. Unless you’re into tortoise shell and long necks, it’s hard to see what the girls see in him, but apparently, he’s a hunk! Eye of the beholder you know.

Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.

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