Belfast Zoo has recently welcomed two new reptile species. A breeding pair of Fijian banded iguana and a female panther chameleon who will soon be joined by a male.
The new arrivals have joined some of the world’s most endangered reptile and amphibian species in Belfast Zoo’s reptile and amphibian house, including golden mantella, mossy frogs, lemur leaf frogs, frilled lizards, the venomous Mexican beaded lizard, Jamaican boas, Utila iguanas and yellow-headed day geckos.
Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns said: “We first opened our renovated and extended reptile and amphibian house in April 2017. At that time, the facility became home to 15 new species which had not previously been held at the zoo and we are delighted to welcome a further two new species. The house not only provides exciting habitats for the species that we care for but also has nursery facilities which have been utilised over the last year as the animals have bred. In the short time that the house has been open, we have had great success with our reptile and amphibian species, welcoming three Critically Endangered Utila iguana and most recently celebrating the arrival of three mossy frog tadpoles with more frogspawn recently spotted”
The Fijian banded iguana is at a high risk of extinction in the wild due to invasive species such as rats, cats and goats. They are also threatened by destruction of their habitat and the pet trade. In the last 30 to 45 years it is estimated that the population has declined by more than 50% and this worrying trend is expected to continue.
Alyn continues “Reptiles have walked the earth for more than 340 million years, even outliving the dinosaurs. Amphibians were the first creatures to venture onto land almost 400 million years ago. However, many reptile and amphibian species are facing the very real threat of extinction. In fact, more than 150 amphibian species have become extinct since 1980. A further third of the world’s amphibians are threatened with extinction. Conservation is one of our primary aims and, in addition to our active work through global and collaborative breeding programmes for these species, we also work closely with a number of conservation projects.”
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