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Of extinctions since the year 1500 have been island species.

Grand Cayman, Jamaican, and Anegada iguanas

Left: Grand Cayman blue iguana. Center: Jamaican iguana. Right: Anegada Island iguana.



Cousins, Not Twins

Island iguanas have some obvious characteristics in common, but each species is unique. Some live in tropical forests, others in rocky, dry desert conditions. This makes sense, as each species has evolved in isolation; most iguanas are endemic to their islands, meaning they can be found nowhere else on Earth.



Grand Cayman juvenile iguana and hatchlings

Left: Juvenile Grand Cayman iguana. Right: Grand Cayman iguana hatchlings.


Number of eggs some species lay at one time.

A Headstart

What’s a sign of a struggling species? No juveniles. Where there are no juveniles, there will be no adults. For most of their existence, island iguanas had no natural predators. That changed when humans came ashore with cats, dogs, rats, and livestock. Adult iguanas are big enough to fight off these mammals, but babies are easy prey. Our scientists have begun headstarting programs where hatchlings are raised in safety until they’re big enough to be released back into the wild and fend for themselves.

Cuban rock iguanas on sandy beach

Together, we can
turn things around.


Reptile species on Caribbean islands.

A small boat is anchored to the beach as five scientist pass iguana transport containers to each other from the boat.

Translocated iguanas are released from tubes onto the beach in Turks and Caicos Islands.



Getting On Board

For more than 30 years, San Diego Zoo Global scientists, conservationists, and partners have been in the Caribbean studying and helping these intriguing animals. We use our knowledge from field conservation to implement successful breeding and reintroduction programs, and conduct outreach in local communities to give these lizards a fighting chance.



A scientist shares a Turks and Caicos iguana with a group of school children

A group of Turks and Caicos school children enjoy learning about their iguana neighbors from San Diego Zoo Global experts.


Of island species are found nowhere else in the world.

San Diego Zoo Global is the only organization to have successfully bred the endangered “Big Three”: Grand Cayman blue, Anegada Island, and Jamaican iguanas. This was made possible thanks to the generous support of friends like you. As we continue to study these species and reintroduce animals into the wild, will you help us?

Cuban rock iguana