The Giant Land Tortoises of Isabela Island are impressive! They were an endangered species due to recent volcanic eruptions, whalers and other shipmen taking the tortoises onboard for food, and destruction of their natural habitat due to introduced animals.
Isabela Island is inhabited by humans (many Galapagos Islands are not) and the dogs, cats, pigs, donkeys, and more have destroyed the giant land tortoise food source. The introduced animals can also can damage tortoise nesting grounds or eat the tortoise eggs and young tortoises.
Whalers took the tortoises onboard because they could survive without food or water for a long period of time before being killed for food.
The conservatory on Isabela Island is helping the Giant Land Tortoise repopulate in a safe area before they are returned to their native areas. Isabela has had so many volcanic eruptions that there are subspecies of tortoises, they are not all the same. The giant lava fields did not allow for the areas of tortoises to mix, leading to evolutionary subspecies among the Isabela Island tortoises.
These guys are about 8 years old:
I learned that the Giant Land Tortoise can live up to 150 years old! The older they get, the bigger they get. These tortoises never stop growing.
The Giant Land Tortoise is one of the coolest animals I’ve seen. They walked right up to us as if to check us out and then walked back into the shade for a nap. We were obviously not cool to them