The Indianapolis Zoo is extremely excited to announce that for the first time ever the Critically Endangered Jamaican Iguana has been hatched outside of their native island country. Two baby iguanas were hatched at the Zoo on August 29, and a third emerged on August 30. “Chester,” age 15, and “Myrtle,” 14, are the parents of the first three hatchlings, which are not only the first Jamaican Iguanas to hatch outside of Jamaica, but the first to hatch via artificial incubation.
This first clutch contained a total of 14 eggs of which six were fertile and eight were infertile. Three fertile eggs died at various stages of development.
The zoo has a second clutch of 20 viable eggs (total clutch size of 21 included one infertile egg) that began hatching on September 2. A total of 19 eggs hatched. The female of this clutch “Gertrude” is age 15.
The hatchlings total length has ranged from 19.8 cm to 23.0 cm. Their weights have ranged from 22.4 g to 33.0 grams. The first clutch began hatching after an 81 day incubation period, while the second clutch hatched after 77 – 82 days incubation.
In 1994, the Indianapolis Zoo was one of only three zoos in North America to receive juvenile Jamaican iguanas as part of the overall conservation program, which included establishing a breeding population in the U.S. Each year, the Indianapolis Zoo staff has made strides in developing an in-house captive breeding program. This successful hatching is a terrific development that offers hope for the continued survival of these lizards.
In addition to the captive breeding aspect, Indianapolis Zoo has provided support to the “Jamaican Iguana Head Start” Program since the early 1990s. With these 22 new hatchlings the population of Jamaican Iguanas in zoos just doubled. In addition it provides a significant breakthrough in the captive husbandry of this rare iguana, considered difficult to manage and breed in captivity.