Blue Iguana Recovery Program

National Museum to assist iguanas

May 15th, 2008 | By | Category: Blues in the Local Press

National Museum to assist iguanas

Cayman Net News Online

Published on Thursday, May 15, 2008  

Fred Burton
BIRP Director

Expressing outrage over the recent slaughter of seven Blue Iguanas at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, the National Museum has pledged to contribute to the care of the endangered animals.

On Saturday, 3 May unknown assailants entered the captive breeding facility in Grand Cayman, killing seven Blue Iguanas and injuring two others.

The National Museum donation will go to the Blue Iguana Conservation Fund, which provides care for the remaining 28 (including the two injured) adult breeding stock and 106 juveniles that are being reared for release.

“We at the Museum are very saddened about the recent loss of these important national symbols,” said the National Museum’s Acting Director Debra Barnes-Tabora, adding that it is the responsibility of everyone to care for and protect the Island’s natural and cultural heritage.

“This is undoubtedly a major setback for this programme by a sister agency, the National Trust, and we urge the public to get behind the police in bringing to justice the persons responsible and to contribute to the reward fund as well as to the conservation programme.”

Fred Burton, Director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program (BIRP), said that funds are particularly needed now for the care of the iguanas, with the facility being accorded a crime scene status while the investigation is ongoing. That interrupts the revenue source from visitors coming to see the iguanas.

“It is always very difficult to raise enough money to care for the iguanas,” he said, noting that right now the funds are particularly needed to support the daily care of the iguanas as well as to heighten security at the Botanic Park, to make sure that the iguanas are fully protected from recurrence of such reprehensible acts.

Mr Burton said that the two seriously injured iguanas are under the care of a veterinary doctor who was flown in at very short notice by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) located in the Bronx.

With the expert care of Dr Stephanie James being put to service, Mr Burton is upbeat about the injured iguanas’ chances of recovery, but “they are by no means out of the woods.” However, their prognosis is much better than it was a few days ago.

“We made a phone call and the WCS flew in Dr James the next day,” Mr. Burton said, explaining that the organization had donated the doctor’s services.

Mr. Burton thanked the Department of Agriculture and the Cayman Islands Veterinary Board which went to “extraordinary” means – “pulling out all the stops” – to get Dr James to Cayman as expeditiously as was needed.

Explaining the importance of the captive stock in the Botanic Park, Mr Burton said that, apart from those freed for roaming in the park, the young iguanas are regularly released into the Salina Reserve. The Salina Reserve is the Trust’s largest, located in northeastern Grand Cayman.

Commenting on her support for the blue iguana programme, Museum Acting Director Ms Barnes-Tabora said the Grand Cayman blue iguana, found nowhere else in the world, is important to the Islands’ natural and cultural history.

She added: “The programme to restore and preserve our iguana population, set up in 1990, has in recent years begun to show promise of success – it is particularly heartbreaking in that context that such senseless, malicious acts have been perpetrated.”

The Museum Acting Director appealed to residents to come forward with any information they may have on the killings and urged others to join them in contributing to the care of the iguanas and to the reward fund.

Contact person at the National Trust is Caroline Key, Development and Marketing Manager, telephone at 949–0121 or email

Information about the crime should be submitted to the Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line in Miami on 800-8477. Answered overseas, callers are never required to reveal personal identities, thereby guaranteeing absolute anonymity.

Read the article at CaymanNetNews Here

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