Our Zoo is a longtime supporter of rock iguana conservation. In 2003, the Milwaukee County Zoo began fieldwork studies of the Grand Cayman blue iguana and the Jamaican iguana. The Grand Cayman blue iguana is listed as endangered, while the Jamaican iguana, once thought extinct in the wild, is listed as critically endangered.
A summary of our activities follows:
- Our collaborative fieldwork efforts have involved successful releases of captive-hatched and raised iguanas back into the wilds of Grand Cayman and Jamaica.
- Due to our efforts, and collaborating zoo's efforts, the Grand Cayman blue iguana was downlisted in 2012 from critically endangered to endangered. The wild population is currently estimated at 750, which is significant since a 2003 census estimated only 12 in the wild.
- Through observations and radio tracking, data has been collected for the first time on the habits of these rare species from both raised-and-released iguanas and free-ranging wild individuals.
- In 2011, the Zoo sent a zookeeper to Grand Cayman to cut trails and position artificial iguana burrows in a recently acquired natural area (Colliers Reserve) to prepare the reserve for the release of 92 Grand Cayman blue iguanas. A veterinary technician was also sent to assist health screening of the iguanas prior to release.
- Future scheduled work will include sending additional staff to assist fieldworkers with the protection of nest sites, nest monitoring, health screenings, radio tracking and maintenance of iguana raise-and-release facilities.