The Charles Darwin Research Centre was created in 1960 by an international committee to promote research, conservation, and education in the Galapagos Islands. The centre is located on Santa Cruz Island, a short walk away from Puerto Ayora. At the centre, visitors can tour the Van Straelen Exhibition Centre. The centre also runs slide shows that describe the history of the islands and the current conservation efforts.
In addition to the exhibition centre, the tortoise rearing house and the adult tortoise house, provide opportunities for visitors to 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! The most famous giant Tortoise – Lonesome George – was a resident here until his death in June 2012 at the estimated age of 100 years old.