The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) was created in 1960 as a biological research station operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. CDRS is where the Galapagos National Park Service started the conservation programs to protect and increase the number of tortoises so that they are no longer an endangered species. CDRS was the home of Lonesome George for more than 40 years. George, viewed by many as the number one tourist attraction in the Galapagos Islands, was the last known tortoise of his subspecies from Pinta Island and a symbol and icon of conservation not only of the giant tortoises, but of all of the environmental sustainability throughout the Galapagos Islands. Although many efforts were made to encourage Lonesome George to mate with a female of a related subspecies, he was unsuccessful. That’s not the case with Diego, who has been successfully reunited with females from Espanola Island, thereby saving that species from extinction. You will visit the exhibition center, tortoise rearing house and the adult tortoise house, where you will observe the 11 subspecies of tortoises up close. In the rearing house, hatchlings and young tortoises are nurtured until they can be released, at about four years of age, to their home islands. Nearly 2000 young tortoises have been released so far! This is a great place to get up-close photographs of the tortoises feeding on cacti and greens, engaging in their particularly slow and deliberate mating behavior or simply snoozing the day away.