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New Iguana has Visitors seeing Blue at the Zoo

ABQ BioPark one of just 15 U.S. facilities to house endangered iguana.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The ABQ BioPark Zoo is feeling anything but "blue" over the arrival of its newest resident - in fact, the BioPark hopes he'll help save his species.

Cerulean, a 7-year-old male Grand Cayman blue iguana, came to Albuquerque from the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina. The ABQ BioPark is one of only 15 U.S. facilities chosen to house blue iguanas.

Cerulean is part of the North American Blue Iguana Recovery Program and the BioPark hopes he'll help produce more of his kind. He joins four other blue iguanas, including one female, that recently arrived at the zoo.

"We are thrilled to welcome our new blue iguana, and look forward to helping expand the North American population of this beautiful and endangered animal," said Richard Reams, Curator of Herpetology.

In order to receive blue iguanas, the zoo had to meet specific criteria including having experienced staff and proper facility/enclosures.

The Grand Cayman blue iguana's plight is quite the conservation story - the species dwindled to just 15 in the wild by 2003 due to habitat destruction, conflict with automobiles, and predation by feral cats and dogs. The species, which is endemic to the Grand Cayman Island, was predicted to become extinct within the first decade of the 21st century. However, a strong conservation push has brought the species back to about 750 wild iguanas today. The ABQ BioPark is helping to produce a contingency population in case the wild population suffers another decline.

Grand Cayman Island is the largest of the three Cayman Islands, and is situated just south of Cuba and west of Jamaica in the Caribbean. The species is the largest vertebrate endemic to that island.

As its name implies, the iguana is known for its blue coloring, which becomes more intense during mating season and when males combat over territory and females. The coloration, which can run from turquoise to bright blue, is also dependent on each individual iguana.