Two of four eggs Grand Cayman blue iguana hatchlings that arrived Tuesday are one of the most endangered lizard species in the world. Just a few years ago, there were only about 20 left in the wild. They were driven to the brink of extinction due to habitat destruction and the dogs and cats brought to the island by humans.
The zoo is one of 13 locations around the world working to breed the lizard off the island. The San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research has four breeding adults which they have been breeding for three years.
“Breeding these guys is amazing,” research coordinator Jeff Lemmhe said. “We just produced four of the most endangered lizards in the world. It’s awesome.”
The lizards can grow to be more than 4 feet long, weigh more than 20 pounds and live as long as humans. They develop blue coloring as they mature.
With captive breeding programs, the number of blue iguanas on the island has increased to more than 250. This week's hatchlings will stay in the U.S. to ensure the population survives off the island.