The Charles Darwin Research Centre is a biological research station that was created in 1960 and is operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. It is the centre of the great restorative efforts taking place in the Galápagos Islands.
The station features a tortoise rearing house, where hatchlings and young tortoises are nurtured until they can be released to their home islands. This usually happens when the tortoise is around four years old. Adult tortoises that cannot be released back into the wild live in the adult tortoise area, in several different enclosures for the protection of each subspecies.
Within the centre is a large enclosure that is home to Galápagos land iguanas. There are two species of land iguanas found on the Galápagos islands; The Galápagos land iguana, which is native to six islands and the Barrington land iguana, which is only found on the island of Santa Fe. They are large, yellowish iguanas, over one metre long and can weigh up to thirteen kilograms. The Galápagos iguanas are thought to have a common ancestor who probably floated over to the islands from South America on rafts of vegetation. The land iguanas live in drier areas and are much brighter and more colourful than their marine relatives. At night they sleep in burrows in the ground in order to conserve their body temperature.
Lonesome George, the last survivor of the dynasty of of land tortoises from Pinta Island, lived in an pen with two young, female tortoises from the population of Wolf Island until his death in 2012. He was estimated to be between 100 and 150 years old. Lonesome George was found in December of 1971 and taken to the Charles Darwin Research Station in March of 1972. Researchers desperately tried to find other specimens of his species, however all efforts were in vain.