Native to seven of the Galapagos Islands, the giant tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise and can live for more than 100 years in the wild. Incredibly, a tortoise in captivity once reached 170 years. Spanish explorers even named the islands after the reptiles – galápago meaning tortoise – in the 16th century. Once numbering over 250,000, the tortoise population declined to a low of just 3,000 in the 1970′s due to exploitation for meat and the introduction of non-native species. Conservation and breeding efforts have resurrected the species and though still listed as “vulnerable” the giant tortoise is making a comeback. In the Galapagos, breeding centers can be visited on the three main islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and Cristobal.