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Press Release

On 14 February 1998 a third group of Jamaican iguanas (Cyclura collei) was released into the Hellshire Hills of southeastern Jamaica as part of an ongoing effort to reestablish this species 1. its native habitat. The Hellshire Hills ecosystem supports the remnant population ofthis critically endangered iguana and provides the only two nesting areas known to exist. Rediscovered in 1990, the Jamaican iguana has been the subject ofan intensive recovery program supported largely through the efforts of the AZA Limd TAG and participating U.S. zoos. To date, nearly 20 mos have contributed resources to this important project.

These recent six releases bring to 14 the total number of iguanas released since 1996; an additional six will be released in June 1998, The iguanas are collected as hatchlings and then headstarted for five to six years at the Hope Zoo in Kingston until large enough to avoid predation by the introduced mongoose. The field project, which also entails protection of nesting sites, predator control and monitoring of released iguanas and the wild population, is currently being funded, in par, by two AZA Conservation Endowment Fund (CEF) gmnts.

The recent releases were coordinated by staff from the Fort Worth Zoo and involved personnel from the University of West Indies, Hope Zoo, Natural Resources Conservation Authority, and the Indianapolis and Sedgwick County Zoos. The iguanas were fitted with radio transmitters and will be monitored for movements and survival over the net six months. All previous releases are believed to still survive indicating that headstarted iguanas are excellent candidates for restocking/repatriation efforts.

Rick Hudson, Chair
Lizard Advisory Group
Rock Iguana SSP Coordinator
Fort Worth Zoo


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