From Charles Darwin Research Station, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.
This is one of the famous Galápagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.). There are many living in the wild on the islands, but this one happens to be at the research station in the island’s most populous town.
The tortoise is one of the famous examples of evolution on the islands–that is, tortoises have slight genetic variations on different islands. Some of these species (or subspecies–opinions differ on how to classify them) are dying out, due to historical exploitation and the tortoises’ naturally slow growth rate. Therefore, some animals are kept in captivity primarily to manage populations, generally by trying to breed the most genetically similar animals together, such as in the case of Lonesome George.
Research on these gentle giants is still ongoing at the Charles Darwin Research Station. One recent success story is the Española tortoise (C. hoodensis), which has been repatriated following a breeding program, and is now reproducing successfully in the wild again.
Love it. Actually considered using a turtle photo on this one but we only have small ones here and yours is SO impressive!!