Cruisers meet Blue IguanasMay 31st, 2005 | By admin | Category: Blues in the Local Press
by Cliodhna McGowan
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
The first official cruise passenger tour of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park was not even dampened by a downpour of rain Tuesday morning.
Although the skies opened for the end of the tour, the eight visitors from the Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas ship had high praise for both the Botanic Park and their first ever encounter with Cayman’s Blue Iguanas.
The eight visitors, who are native to Taiwan and China, living in San Francisco, were greatly enthused about the hour and a half long tour.
“It was really great to see all the iguanas. It is a great facility, and we were introduced to all the different flowers also,” said Ms Fumika Tokuyama, who had previously seen Marine Iguanas in the Galapagos Islands.
Other members of the group said it was their first time seeing any sort iguanas and they were fascinated by them and were interested in the fact that the Blue Iguana is an endangered species, which they had not previously known.
The Blue Iguana Recovery Programme was set up to try and save the iguanas from extinction and is being run by the National Trust of the Cayman Islands under the directorship of Fred Burton.
The tour was guided by Blue Iguana Recovery Programme wardens Samantha Addinall and Chris Carr.
The visitors were taken by bus to Botanic Park, where they first were shown the Visitors Centre, and from there were brought to the captive breeding facility where they met the 2003 and 2004 Blue Iguana babies, of which there are about 150. They also met adult captive breeders such as Daniel and Jessica, Digger and Hal.
“It was a great experience for them and they were very excited to see the iguanas,” explained Ms Addinall.
One little girl on the tour questioned why the babies were grey. The wardens explained that this was because it had been raining. The animals sat on rocks to dry off in the sun and began to turn bluer.
The tour group was then brought around the park and into the Colour Garden to view some of the iguanas in the wild.
During the tour the visitors were not encouraged to touch the iguanas.
“They are wild animals and not pets. We don’t want them to be perceived as pets,” said Ms Addinall.
Other questions asked by visitors were what the iguanas eat and how big they can grow to. The tour guides also informed the guests of the different types of plants and birds in the park, along with giving them information about the Recovery Programme’s website and newsletter so they can keep in touch.
The Blue Iguana is Grand Cayman’s largest native land animal; a giant, dragon-like blue lizard, which grows to more than five feet long and weighs more than 25 pounds.
The cruise tours will help fund the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme and its staff.