The few wild blue iguanas found in human habitat risk being hunted and killed.The head-start blue iguanas, however, are released into two difficult-to-access reserves on Grand Cayman that have very harsh habitat unfriendly to humans.Maurer’s trip was supported by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee County Zoo.Maurer, who has done volunteer research in the Cayman Islands for the last four years and at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wis., with endangered whooping cranes, says she likes collaborating with other veterinary staff and researchers.Finally, the team would photograph each animal because each iguana’s scale pattern is unique – just as human fingerprints are.Photos create a visual record of each iguana’s identifying scales and other characteristics.
Maurer was part of the veterinary support coordinated since 2001 by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a national conservation group with headquarters in New York City. Paul Calle, WCS chief veterinarian, leads the veterinary part of the conservation effort. It’s the size of a mature, 7-year-old, female blue iguana. She uses this prop when she speaks to Zoological Society of Milwaukee classes at the Milwaukee (Wis.) County Zoo or to kids at Milwaukee-area libraries. She hand-painted the color and the eyes onto the cloth. It looks a lot like the ones she helped protect in the Caribbean since 2009.“As a result of the recovery effort…there are now more than 700 free-ranging Grand Cayman iguanas at three sites on Grand Cayman,” reports a 2012 WCS update. “This is one endangered species that CAN be saved,” writes Frederic J.Burton, the director of the island’s wildlife reserves and author of “The Little Blue Book: A Short History of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana” (2010, International Reptile Conservation Foundation).
Iguanas dig underground, lay their eggs and then seal up and disguise the den entrance.