The Call dove into the wild world of a few of our scaly friends, Fiji banded iguanas. We spoke with herpetology keeper Jason to learn about the Fiji banded iguanas that call Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo home.
The Call: Today we are talking about our Fiji banded iguanas and why they are so important to the Zoo. Jason, can you tell us a little bit about these guys?
Jason: Sure! Here at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo we understand that even though something is not cute and cuddly, it still may need our help. There are a lot of species out there threatened by invasive species or habitat loss, a huge example is our endangered Fiji banded iguanas.
The Call: What problems are they facing in the wild?
Jason: Their species is currently being threatened by non-native mongooses introduced to their islands which are killing off the Fiji iguana species as a whole, combined with habitat fragmentation and loss.
The Call: Is their population declining?
Jason: Great question, the populations of Fiji banded iguanas have seen a decrease of at least 50 percent over the last few decades. There are currently 55 Fiji banded iguanas in the Native American population SSP (Species Survival Plan) with eight of those iguanas currently too old to breed.
The Call: So they need our help! How are zoos like ours helping?
Jason: They certainly do. We hatched three iguanas this year, one male and two females, who are going to maintain the current US population, and hopefully help increase the population in the coming years.
The Call: Are there goals or specific needs for the SSP?
Jason: To achieve a stable population size, the SSP requires six to seven hatchlings per year; our iguana hatchlings are a great step toward that goal.
The Call: Are there other zoos that are supporting this effort?
Jason: Yes, there are other intuitions that support the effort, however there are only 10 breeding pairs in the United States, and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is home to one successful pair.
The Call: That’s great news! Do you have any final words for others to keep in mind to help the Fiji banded iguana, or any of our other scaly friends?
Jason: Yes of course, even you can help and support endangered reptiles by becoming aware of where your pets are coming from. Don’t support the illegal pet trade and make sure species you have in your home are legal and are provided by permitted pet stores or breeders. And as always, learn more at TLPZ.org.