One of the worlds rarest iguanas.
Turquoise Holidays is proud to announce its sponsorship of Gorgeous George, a regal reptile that, along with the rest of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana species, owes its salvation to the dedication of a singled minded British scientist, Fred Burton, who was recently awarded an MBE for his work and has just written a book about their story.
Visitors to the Cayman Islands can not only see Gorgeous George roaming in the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, but are greeted by a 10-ft long mounted reproduction of the Blue Iguana on the wall of the airport arrival hall at Grand Cayman.
The astonishing story of the race to save the giant Grand Cayman Blue iguana, a sky-blue, red-eyed huge lizard that grows to five feet and has a life span comparable to humans, found only on the 76 square mile country in the British West Indies, is being told in the new book by Fred, who stepped in at the brink of disaster and prevented a prehistoric species from being the first major extinction of the 21st Century.
‘The Little Blue Book – a short history of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana’ by Frederic J Burton MBE is an engaging and personal story about the herculean effort to save the Blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) , which grows up to five foot in length and is endemic to the small tropical Caribbean island of Grand Cayman. Described by BBC Wildlife magazine as “one of the most remarkable conservations stories you will ever hear”, the story starts in 1979 when the young British scientist Fred Burton arrives on Grand Cayman and becomes intrigued in the species. When, many years later, as Environmental Programmes director for the Cayman Islands National Trust, he discovers that less than 15 are likely to be alive in the wild – too few to breed, therefore making the Blue iguana functionally extinct – and so the determined scientist takes action and spurs an international and notable team of dedicated helpers to follow suit. A humorous and passionate account follows of the struggle to save the creature from certain extinction, with its pitfalls, dangers, disappointments, highs, lows, heartbreak and joy, and the book eventually leaves the reader with the heart-warming knowledge that with passion, dedication and determination there can still be hope for the many endangered species with which we share our fragile planet.
Today Gorgeous George and several hundred of the Blue Iguanas roam freely in large numbers around the 60 acre Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, and in the Salina Reserve in the heart of Grand Cayman’s wild eastern interior. The breeding programme, while far from over, has thus far been so successful that a further reserve of land has been made available for their release.
Visitors to Grand Cayman can experience a private tour of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, which is housed within the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, and meet many of the characters that Fred brings to life so vividly in his account, both in the breeding enclosure and on a wander around the park. Tours are available at 11 am every day, six days a week.
The Little Blue Book is published by the International Reptile Conservation Foundation and has just been made available in the UK on Amazon priced at £14.00.