Green alien becomes Joe Tourist

| 14/07/2009

(CNS): A rescued Green Iguana is now part of the Joe Tourist Cayman team after owner Gilbert Nicoletta agreed to adopt it as a live mascot for his nature store. The injured animal had been found on the premises of a Seven Mile Beach restaurant and volunteers from Cayman Wildlife Rescue (CWR) responded quickly to take it in for emergency care. According to CWR, because it is an invasive species, Green Iguanas are never released into the wild, so a permanent home had to be found. Nicoletta quickly came to the rescue of “Joe” and offered to take him on. (Left: Gilbert Nicoletta, Sue Barnes and Joe the iguana)

The Iguana was suffering with a very old fracture, most likely due to being hit by an oncoming car, CWR said in a release. CWR Project Manager Alison Corbett explained, “The vet quickly determined that the animal had indeed been injured quite sometime ago and unfortunately the fracture had begun to heal improperly leaving one of its front limbs immobile.” The Green Iguana nicknamed “Joe” was passed onto wildlife rehabber, Susan Barnes, for care as he was malnourished and unable to feed himself.

Nicoletta commented, “At Joe Tourist, we now have a number of Green Iguanas that have become a major attraction and photo-op for visitors to our store. We also use the green iguana as an educational tool to teach the difference between the endemic Blue Iguana and the introduced, invasive common Green Iguana.” He stressed that visitors are always encouraged to visit the Blue Iguana Recovery Program at the QE II Botanical Gardens to see the true Cayman Blue Iguana. “We’re excited because the new rescued Joe will become a part of an in-store promotion at Joe Tourist; where customers can win free-smoothies and other products if they find a suitable name for our newest green-celebrity ‘Team Joe’ member.”

Rescued Green Iguanas also offer a chance for the Cayman Wildlife Rescue team and veterinarians to gain valuable experience in the care and rehab of iguanas which could in turn help save Cayman’s endemic Blue Iguana. Corbett added, “There is much to learn about reptile care in general, their needs are quite complex and their veterinary care is usually difficult. From every Green Iguana rescue and successful rehabilitation we gain important insight to help our endemic Blues.”

The Green Iguana is quickly becoming a pest in Cayman, Corbett cautioned, “All animals need to be treated humanely; no animal regardless of its status deserves a painful death after being hit by a car. The public can call our wildlife emergency line at 917-BIRD and a volunteer will come to collect the injured animal.”

Traffic continues to be the main cause for wildlife injuries in Cayman. Corbett added, “We ask the public slow down and watch for all wildlife and NEVER feed wildlife along the roads – it is dangerous for wildlife and for people.”

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a programme of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands tasked with the rescue of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back into the wild. It is financed by donations from the public and staffed entirely by volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Alison Corbett at For more information you can also visit

What to do if you find injured wildlife – Call the LIME Sponsored Emergency Hotline 917-BIRD(2473) for all wildlife emergencies. Cayman Wildlife Rescue has a team of experienced and trained volunteers ready to assist in wildlife emergencies. The public are reminded to NEVER attempt to care for a wildlife animal themselves as they required special diets and veterinary care.

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  1. Tourista says:

    Good for Tourism

    On an island that has already largely lost it’s quaint Caribbean appeal, bizarre, unusual wildlife such as iguanas, which are not seen crossing roads in all but one of the United States is a good thing for tourism. 

    It is pretty short sighted to be more concerned about your flowers than having something… anything to potentially thrill a visitor and give them a sense of being in another country.  Cayman now looks more like an affluent US town than any other Caribbean destination.  We need all the help we can get and eco tourism is a product we desperately need to develop to the best of our ability.  Instead we are plowing it under, running it over and eating it out of existance as fast as we can.

    Don’t even get me started on over-fishing our tiny little reef system!  Stop eating what little remains of the reef fish, pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaase!  Cayman was once among the must see dive destinations of the world, but no longer.  It is now lambasted in critical dive journals for it’s glaring lack of big fish and big schools of fish.  No, they were not chased away by divers.  They were caught and eaten.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just collecting them and killing them seems pretty wasteful to me.The DOE would need a full time person just for that task because there are thousands of iguanas here and catching them requires a fair amount of skill because they are extremely fast creatures.

    It might also be pretty cost prohinitive to make iguana products as well. Not sure how easy it would be to skin them in such a way to make a product out of them?? Pretty interesting nonetheless.

    I agree first things first though – change the law.


  3. Anonymous says:

    We just need to change the law so we can kill and eat them. They taste very good but the law as it stands now prohibits the willful killing of any type of iguana.

  4. Anonymous says:


    While I agree with you that the Green Iguana is becoming a threat and that we need to take quick action to combat them – I strongly disagree with the option of Green Iguana ”Products”.  I think that Cayman should rather just cull and euthanize the animals in question and this should be implemented by the DoE in a humane fashion.  It is not positive for Cayman to be in the practice of creating an animal product industry which may be considered distasteful by our local population and tourists OR which could in turn hide the illegal trade of Blue Iguana skins.  It could put us in the same situation we are with legal and illegal turtle meat, without serious genetic testing and strict controls the Gov’t cannot convict poachers due to the uncertainty of the origins of the product.  Control is needed for the Green Iguana’s and I don’t think we need to get our “creative juices” flowing – we just need the DoE to be able to act quickly with an island wide cull and euthanasia.

  5. Sad Young Caymanian says:

    If he wants to rescue them, come to West Bay!  My hibiscus plants need a break from these pests….

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think it would be a great solution to get our creative juices going to solve the epidemic of invasive green iguana’s by starting our iguana skin factory and produce bags, shoes wallets etc. I think it would be a great "local" product. Talk about an exclusive product and we should ensure that the product is only sold in the higher end stores around the island as well. Dyes could be used to color the different products… I think some entrepreneurs could get this started. We would sell the meat which apparently tastes like chicken……..[not something that I will be knowingly find out about] and there will be little waste to this absolute ugly nuisance of a creature.

    • backstroke says:

      There we go, raise them as an asset and kill and make items. well gusee what these ugly little creatures will still expand their population and destroy the plant life and be a nuisance to the blue iguannas. Lets stop the import of them from honduras and the pet stores or private people that keep them. They are a pest.end of conversation.