Turtle Farm says old age behind animal deaths

| 27/05/2014

(CNS): Concerns raised by a UK-based charity regarding the fate of animals other than turtles housed at the Cayman Turtle Farm had been dismissed by the management, which claims that a hybrid blue iguana died of old age and the deaths of five sandbar sharks were uncertain but may also have been due to age. The Farm said a remaining shark has been removed from the exhibit as the conditions do not suit sandbar sharks. Because it is not native to Cayman it cannot be released and may have to be put down. The CTF denied any problems at all with "Smiley", the crocodile, which was captured in the wild in 2006 by members of the public and given to the farm to recover from injuries it sustained when it was caught.

In its latest report about the CTF and its aim to persuade Cayman to transition the facility from a turtle meat supplier to a fully-fledged conservation centre, the World Society for the Protection of Animals raised a number of questions about various other creatures the Farm houses as its wildlife exhibits.

The blue iguana hybrid, which the WSPA said had not been seen for several years, is dead, the Farm confirmed.

The management explained that the iguana was part of a hybrid pair with Sister Islands iguana ancestry. The male died in the wake of Hurricane Michelle, while the female lived on until 2011, when she was around 27 years old.

“Their normal lifespan is about 30 years,” the Farm said in response to questions from CNS about the WSPA concerns. “A necropsy was conducted by an exotic animal specialist veterinarian who had been overseeing her care for years. The necropsy revealed that the Blue died of natural causes – complications of old age. The BIRP (Blue Iguana Recovery Programme) and DoE (Department of Environemnt) were both notified of this.”

The CTF management noted that the Farm is currently caring for a Sister Islands iguana at the request of the Department of the Environment. That iguana was brought to the farm for rehabilitation and safe keeping, and it is now thriving in the iguana habitat.

Explaining that Smiley is not a caiman, as suggested by the WSPA, but a hybrid American crocodile that was injured when it was captured by members of the public, the CTF said the DoE asked them to care for Smiley during her recuperation. As she could not be returned to the wild, the Farm agreed to keep her permanently. She is kept in partial shade and partial full sun, fresh water and salt water sections, and is free to move between the sections as she pleases. The management said the crocodile jumps for her food as “part of the enrichment exercise”, which gives “her some mental and physical exercise simulating the species natural activity of leaping and pouncing to catch its prey.”

The situation with the sharks, however, remains in question and the Farm confirmed that five sandbar sharks have died. Vets were unable to determine the cause of death and had suggested it may be age-related. The remaining sandbar shark is in the Farm’s quarantine facility because this species of shark runs the risk of injury in the exhibit, which is an artificial reef and not a sandbar.

As these sharks are not native to the Cayman Islands, the last shark cannot be released into the wild so it may have to be “euthanized for humane reasons rather than risk repeated injury by being returned to the exhibit,” the Farm added.

The nurse shark that had an injury to its pectoral fin was also removed to CTF’s on-site quarantine facility, where it has been treated and has recovered.

“It is a type of injury thatoccasionally occurs in nature, especially during breeding season,” the Farm said, adding it was awaiting a decision by the vet about whether the shark should be returned to the exhibit. 

See full answers from the Turtle Farm posted below regarding CNS questions based on the WSPA concerns, along with the charity’s report. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    boycott the turtle farm……it's a grotesque vile facility that is a disgrace to humanity….

  2. Bozo says:

    And….. If I remember correctly they killed the first batch of sharks due to a malfunction in the water circulation system. Not a good track record! Surely they knew the habitat was not suitable for these sharks before they put them in there?

  3. Anonymous says:

    So you blame the vegans for the extinction of the species?? Can you man-splain that to me please?

    • Anonymous says:

      no such thing as old age killing our turtles and iguanas…. what we need is more resource/money towards caring of all animals including the humane society dogs and cats as well.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I've got an idea. Whoever got that shark here from wherever they got it, let them get it back to where it came from. Easy 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Please don't give up WSPA.  Nothing will be done for the better without your hard work.  In Cayman turtle is seen a stew, not an endangered animal.

  6. anonymous says:

    I just visited the place and have to admit I was a little creeped out when I learned the turtles are being raised to slaughter and sold as meat. It's not that I am against meat. It's just the disneyland face they put on it all for all the cruise ship tourists that visit the place. You can easily visit this place and never know what it really is. Check out my video called "Crazy People at Turtle Farm" on my youtube channel called billschannel. It shows you how nuts the place is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLlD_JL-77c

    • Anonymous says:

      Your comments on the video are very inaccurate and misleading.

      NOT all of the turtle at the Cayman Turtle Farm are sold for eat. A small fraction are.

      If you'd listened, read or paid attention, you would have known this.

      There are turtles raised as breeders, turtles for the attraction aquarium tanks, turtles that were hatched and released into the wild and turtles which are raised and observed for turtle research and conservation purposes.

      Also, the tour guides are very clear on the fact that there is a working farm component to the facility. The sale of farmed meat supports turtle conservation in the Cayman Islands, as otherwise wild turtles would be poached for meat.

      The guides also educate the guests on the role the turtle fishing industry played in the Cayman Islands' history.

      And by the way  – turtle soup is regularly consumed in regions of the southern USA. So, it may not be to your personal taste, but is not a practice limited to the Cayman Islands!


      • Anonymous says:

        We here in the southern US eat freshwater turtle. Our seaturtles are protected and not farmed. Leave us out of your argument, please.

      • Anonymous says:

        Any idea of what that 'small fraction' is?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Honestly whatever the reason is for the death of these animals, the UK has animal abuse galore…why don't they clean up their own back yard before coming to someone elses

    • Anonymous says:

      This is not the UK making these observations … it is a well respected global non governmental organisation.  Even if were UK Govt one nation does not become immune from getting its house in order just because the observers / commentators also run a poor house.

      Bottom line it si eitehr the right thing to do by these creatures or it is not. Lets keep UK / Cayman politics out of that.

  8. SKEPTICAL says:

    In terms of the odds and sods of aquatic animals the Turtle Farm acquired, and has subsequently lost, there is almost an analogy with the dreadful circuses in England in the 19th century which displayed a variety of human exhibits with grotesque physical deformities.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This place is a disgrace and is worse that WSPA even know.  WSPA need to lobby hard in London to get it closed down because nothing will be done by Cayman politicians because they, seriously, don't want to lose the turtle-eater votes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Close it down and then what? No more releases and people will go back to hunting wild ones. I'm sure this will get plenty of thumbs down, but those are the facts.

      It's rather ironic that this bunch of noisy vegans could ultimately lead to the extinction of the very thing they're claiming to protect

    • Anonymous says:

      Its funny you would say this.. with all the badger culling, horse wipping/betting for amusement, sheep being raised only for eating (amongst other sexual activities), mixing dog breeds for their own enjoyment and can’t forget that yummy triple bird meal in England..you would think that the WSPA would be trying to fix their own back yard before trying to “fix” other people’s. All well. .what can you expect from the brits..always trying to tell people. “Do as I say, not what I do”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Turtle eaters voters ……. Awww nothing like reading an selfish ignorant rant with my morning coffee. The turtle farm isn't about turtle eaters its about preserving cayman culture, of course, I am sure you know nothing of the rise and fall of the turtle industry or even of the people of these islands. If you can name one cayman turtler whom you know personally I'll take it all back. I personally don't eat turtle and I love the turtle farm because it is an icon of caymans seafaring culture. Sure there may be room for improvement but it's illogical to think that you can save an animal by shuting the facility down that specializes in breeding that animal who is endangered. why dont you make yourself useful and raise some money for research in order to help improve conditions at the farm? Why don't you try to be a part of the solution? You are not concerned about the turtles, if you were you would be suggesting improvements not a shut down. That's like trying to improve the quality of life for orphans by shutting down the orphanage. Crazy selfish soap box ….fake activist irk me. Help the turtles by helping the farm. 

    • Anonymous says:


      Is there anywhere else in the world that breeds and releases green sea turtles?  

      I don't think so, unless you can prove otherwise?

      So you suggest to shut down the only facility of its kind in the world to do what?

      Cause the extincton of the green sea turtle in the wild?

      Then what will you do, complain that the only remaining green sea turtles left are at Sea World?

      • Anonymous says:

        I thought the turtle farm was not releasing anymore turtles, they certainly didn't last year