Thu, May 08, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Cayman Islands probes deaths of rare iguanas

AP , SAN JUAN

Cayman Island authorities are investigating the violent deaths of a half-dozen giant blue iguanas that are among the most imperiled creatures on the planet.

Five captive Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas, critically endangered lizards that resemble miniature turquoise dragons, were found scattered across a breeding park in the British dependency after they apparently were stomped and gouged, scientists said.

The sixth dead iguana’s entrails were found strewn outside its pen in the fenced-in facility in Grand Cayman, said Fred Burton, director of a program that has brought the rare reptiles back from the brink of extinction.

Feral cats kill young blue iguanas, and adult iguanas are sometimes killed by dogs. But humans were almost certainly behind the weekend massacre, which wiped out more than half of the adult breeding iguanas at the facility, Burton said.

Royal Cayman Islands Police have launched a criminal investigation.

“It’s ugly and deeply shocking,” Burton said on Tuesday from the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. “These were six of our most high-profile, most-loved captive iguanas.”

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