I was very lucky…
In February 2008, I went with a group of my friends to the QE II Botanic Park on Grand Cayman Island. Since I love gardening, I always get excited about touring botanical parks, and this was a GREAT one. But it was about to get even better!
The QE II Botanic Park is also the home of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. I knew about the program from my friend Janis (a former Reptiles Alive animal keeper) who now works as a Keeper at the National Zoo Reptile Discovery Center. The National Zoo is a partner with the Blue Iguana Recovery Project, and maintains a breeding colony of them right here in Washington DC. A few years ago, the Zoo sent Janis to Grand Cayman to help out with the iguana program and learn more about Blue Iguana natural history and husbandry.
While touring the Botanic Garden, we came upon the public area of the Blue Iguana enclosures. They were fantastic – the iguanas had tons of room to roam, bask in the sun, dig in the ground and just act naturally. I was thinking things couldn’t get any better when John the Iguana Warden noticed my Reptiles Alive shirt and started chatting. He invited my group into the “behind the scenes” area and we got a great tour of the facility!
The staff and volunteers are totally dedicated to the care and comfort of these endangered reptiles. From the newly hatched iguanas to the old adults, all the animal receive top-notch care – the Botanic Garden even grows the native plants that the iguanas eat.
After the tour, John invited me to come back the next day and spend more time learning about the iguanas. That day, I met the director of the project, Fred Burton. Fred was a total expert on both the iguanas, the plants, and the ecology of Grand Cayman Island. He graciously took time out of his super busy schedule to spend time showing me more of the park and teaching me about the iguanas.
To learn more about the Blue Iguana Recovery Project, visit http://blueiguana.ky
So, the moral of the story is: Wear your Reptiles Alive shirt when traveling! You never know where it might take you…