Kaila is an adventurous and fun-loving person who doesn't mind trying anything challenging. When she traveled to the Galapagos Islands with a group of Canadian tourists, they found themselves at a a giant tortoise conservation centre. Part of the benefit of these facilities is that they provide education and understanding through displays and materials that people can actually touch. One of the displays was a set of tortoise shells from animals that had died of natural causes. Guests were invited to touch the shells to see how solid and heavy they are. They were also invited to climb inside for a sense of how massive the tortoises really are. Kaila was interested in the shells and her group knew that her enthusiasm for things like this would leave her tempted to try one on. Being a good sport, Kaila stepped up and agreed to climb inside one of the shells. She easily slipped inside the enormous shell with room to spare. Kaila lifted the shell off the ground, remarking at the effort required to hoist such a weight. As she got to her feet, she realized that getting back down, or even out of the shell, was going to require assistance. After a pirouette, Kaila's husband and friends came to the rescue and lowered her back to the floor. She was able to crawl out of the shell after that. These tortoises are incredible animals that are seen as a symbol of the Galapagos Islands. Descended from the giant tortoises of Africa, they have evolved to survive in a dry climate with different vegetation. Their longer necks allow them to reach leaves on shrubs that their descendants could not. Through selective breeding, they have also developed shells with an indentation above the head that allows the neck to stretch up and back even more. The tortoises can live as long as 200 years and they can grow to a weight of more than 400kg (880lbs). They have no defense except to retreat into their shells and wait for a predator to grow tired and go away. Their shells and thick skin make them almost impenetrable. But, as a result of hunting by humans and habitat destruction, their numbers declined in the past few hundred years and the species was at risk of disappearing. Conservation centres like these are helping the tortoise populations increase again through captive breeding and habitat construction. They are now protected and the residents of these islands are making the effort to help the tortoises survive.
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