A Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei), a species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has hatched at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. According to a press release put out by the institution, the male hatchling is unique because its parents were also captive bred, having been born at the Indianapolis Zoo in 2006, in what was then the first successful breeding of the lizard at the zoo.
Jamaican Iguana. Photo © by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global
The hatching of this lizard marks the first time that the Institute has successfully bred the species, and brings to three the number of endangered lizard species the zoo has successfully hatched. The other two species are the Grand Cayman iguana (Cyclura lewisi) and the Anegada iguana (Cyclura pinguis).
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The Jamaican iguana has been found in just one locality in Jamaica; the tropical dry forests of the Hellshire Hills just outside the capital city of Kingston town. The iguana is the largest native animal on the island and was initially thought to be extinct in the 1940s. This notion was dispelled in 1990 when a pig hunter's dog captured an iguana. That specimen was brought to the Hope Zoo in Kingston for identification. A survey of the Hellshire Hills that same year also yielded a population of less than 100 iguanas. The zoo is working with other organizations in North America to produce a viable, self-sustaining population of iguanas.
The Jamaican iguana has declined due to such factors are deforestation and the introduction of non-native animals such as mongooses, cats, dogs, and pigs.