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Baby boom among Grand Cayman blue iguanas at San Diego Zoo

September 15, 2011 |  9:52 am

Iguanas 
No one is sure why, but a baby boom is underway at the San Diego Zoo for the critically endangered Grand Cayman blue iguanas.

Nine of the lizards have hatched in the last two weeks -- double the number of any previous year since the Grand Cayman breeding program began in 2007.

There are now 17 blue iguanas at the zoo's Reptile Conservation Center, which is not open to the public.

Native to an island south of Cuba, the blue iguanas can grow up to 4 feet in length and weigh more than 20 pounds. The blue coloring develops as they mature.

The boom surprised reptile specialists at the zoo. "It was a little chaotic," said Jeff Lemm, a research coordinator for the zoo's Institute for Conservation Research.

The San Diego Zoo is among 13 organizations outside the Grand Cayman with blue iguanas. The San Diego hatchlings will be kept as breeding stock to ensure that the lizard survives outside of its native island, officials said.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Grand Cayman blue iguanas. Credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo

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