Golfers boost blues

The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman has sponsored an iguana in the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme thanks to some innovative fundraising efforts.

The resort raised funds for the honour of naming an iguana through the sales of custom-designed blue iguana golf club head covers at the Blue Tip golf shop. The resort earmarked $5 from the sale of each head cover for the recovery programme and presented a check for $1,000 to Fred Burton, the programme director, in mid-April. The donation afforded the Ritz-Carlton the opportunity to name one of the iguanas in the breeding programme.

Director of Golf David Loomis saw a unique opportunity for the golf team to contribute to these efforts. He commissioned Daphne’s Headcovers to design a head cover to represent the endangered Blue Iguana.

“We were thrilled to sell more than 200 hundred during high season and plan to keep going,” he said. “Guests love hearing about the blue iguanas. About half of them purchase the head covers for their kids to be used as puppets.” In honour of the way the funds were raised, the iguana has been named Blue Tip.

Blue Tip is the second iguana named by resort. Zarco, whom the resort named in 2007, was released into the wild as part of the successful programme to repopulate the endangered species in its native habitat.

As a testament to the success of the programme’s efforts to raise awareness about the plight of the blues, nearly all of the captive iguanas in the programme’s home in the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park have been named by donors.

The Ritz-Carlton works closely with the recovery programme in various ways. Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Programme runs a weekly activity in which guests visit the breeding facility. Ambassadors also offers a Giveback Getaway ‘voluntourism’ activity in which guests volunteer at the facility with cleaning, feeding and spotting/tracking iguanas. The resort donates 100 per cent of the proceeds from the Giveback Getaway program to the recovery programme. In January, the resort partnered with Jacques Scott Ltd. on the Cayman Cookout Wine Auction which raised more than $30,000 for the programme.