Hellish treatment for green iguana

Tourists visiting Hell this week were horrified to be offered a chance to have their photograph taken with a trussed up green iguana.

A woman who works at the tourist attraction was charging visitors $1 to pose for a picture with the iguana. The iguana’s legs and mouth were taped up and the animal was taped to a piece of wood.

American visitor Roni Wildoner sent a photograph of the woman and the iguana to the Caymanian Compass, saying she was appalled by the treatment of the animal.

“In the United States where we live and are animal cruelty investigators, taping a live animal to a board and not allowing it access to food or water, especially in 85 degree heat, would be animal cruelty,” said Ms Wildoner, who is making her third trip.
She added: “This woman was representing Grand Cayman and as a tourist and animal advocate, I find her exploitation of the iguana appalling.

“Grand Cayman is not a Third World country. Tourists spend a lot of hard earned money in this country and maybe some of it could be used to educate the people on the proper treatment of animals. Someone needs to do something to help this poor creature.”

Ms Wildoner, who is an animal cruelty investigator in Bergen County, New Jersey, photographed the woman wearing a handwritten sign around her neck and the bound iguana on the board, on Monday.

Green iguanas, which were previously protected under the Animals Law as part of a provision intended to offer legal protection to indigenous blue iguanas, are not native to Cayman and are considered pests. The Animals Law was amended in 2010 to remove protection of green iguanas.

However, under the law, it remains an offence to ill treat any animal, including green iguanas, and anyone convicted of animal cruelty is liable to a fine of $4,000 and imprisonment for one year.

Ms Wildoner said: “We have pest animals in the US as well, but you still can’t abuse them.”

The Department of Agriculture’s animal welfare officer Margaret Baldino spoke with the woman Thursday to advise her about the concerns over the animal’s welfare. “She said she’d no longer do it,” said Ms Baldino, who explained that the woman had not understood that tourists would react badly to the sight of the trussed up iguana, but instead thought she was giving visitors a chance to see an iguana up close.

“She didn’t realise it would be viewed so negatively,” said Ms Baldino. “She said people were fascinated by them and she was trying to do something to encourage their curiosity,” adding that the woman had said she tied up the iguana for the safety of the tourists who wanted to get a closer look at the animal.

Ms Baldino had earlier also advised a young man in the area to stop displaying another taped up green iguana.

The Department of Agriculture does not intend to prosecute the woman, Ms Baldino said.

Gilbert Connolly, chief executive officer of the Tourism Attraction Board, which manages Hell, said the matter had been brought to the board’s attention Wednesday. “We are taking corrective action to address it,” Mr. Connolly said.

Jane van der Bol of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association said: “The Cayman Islands strives to promote world class facilities and services and while the CITA does not ‘enforce’ any laws or regulations, it is my understanding that the Department of Agriculture, which has responsibility for animal welfare, is actively working on resolving this issue.

“As the activity is occurring in or around the Hell attraction, they are also working with the Hell attraction management to ensure this activity by outside vendors is stopped and does not occur in the future.”

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44 COMMENTS

  1. The woman was only asking for 1.00 per picture!
    Somehow, I can’t blame this person for trying to survive in our current economical situation by exploiting an exotic pest which is doing havoc and harm to our island.she’s only being entrepreneurial and following the examples set by the ‘Best of our Best’ on our islands.
    As stated by Ms Baldino: ‘She didn’t realise it would be viewed so negatively, said Ms Baldino. She said people were fascinated by them and she was trying to do something to encourage their curiosity, adding that the woman had said she tied up the iguana for the safety of the tourists who wanted to get a closer look at the animal.’

    I’m certain she genuinely felt this way, in fact, very sincerely.

    And, the bottom line of this article was that ‘a tourist’ was appalled!
    Had she, the tourist, read the article ‘Brac pond no longer sanctuary’ by Norma Connolly, she would most likely have had a stroke.

    Yet, a Wetland is to be ‘Killed ‘hundreds of endemic and migratory birds and other flora/ fauna are to be displaced, for what?

    A 1.00 photo could potentially result in a 4,000.00 fine and a year of imprisonment!
    On the other hand, what are the penalties for de-sanctify a sanctuary and doing whatever some please?
    Apparently, None!
    This is what I find appalling!

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  2. well said banana republic but since we are vastly out numbered by non natives I see that many already disagree with you. what a sad state for Native Caymanians these days that a woman who is just trying to make an honest living is put to shame in a newspaper article. well all I have to say is long live the Native Caymanian Revolution that has begun will continue to grow until we Native Caymanians overcome take back our beloved Isles. soon come Bo Bo !!!

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  3. If the newspaper wanted to put this person to shame they would have shown her smiling face.
    This is a perfect example of the difference in sensiblities in relationship to the treatment of nature.

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  4. I was out there last week and was also appalled by this. She had a huge smile on her face and was waving it around like a toy. Most tourists were asking if it was real because they could not believe somebody would treat a living animal that way.
    What she was doing was shameful and the people that defend her actions are even more shameful!
    She is only trying to make a dollar – the people on this island selling illegal drugs are only trying to make a dollar that doesnt make it okay!

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  5. Animal cruelty should never be accepted as ‘cultural’.

    Psychological studies have proven that the way children treat small animals (from burning the wings off flies for perverse pleasure) is an indicator of how they will treat other people as adults. What does this say about adults in Cayman?

    The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated – Gandhi

    It says quite a bit about Cayman that not only is there room for this practice to be acceptable for the individual committing it, but the excuses proposed by others.

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  6. The thought process here is amazing–I thought people would be interested in seeing an iguana. If there were any takers, it was so they could say back home, Look at my picture of the native woman with an iguana on a stick. Usually you have to go to Haiti for a picture like that.

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  7. Regarding LifesABeach’s comment, Locke had an interesting view on the subject:

    ‘The custom of tormenting and killing of beasts will, by degrees, harden their minds even towards men.’
    – Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)

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  8. This cruelty to the green iguana needs to stop! I thought it bad enough that Caymanians were eating them but this is dreadful! It doesn’t look good for the Cayman Islands when other people abroad see what is happening in Cayman and take action regarding the cruelty that Caymanians see as a tourist attraction. It doesn’t give a good impression to people in other countries and could impact the Cayman tourist industry in a very negative way. Why aren’t the local population taking action to stop this cruelty to the green iguana?

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  9. I don’t see the problem. Looks like a legit business to me… Also with that set up she can take it home and roast it over a fire when she’s done work at the end of the day.

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  10. Regardless if the economy has become a little rough; she could have never done that in the first place. Taken the tourists to Lem’s pet store or to the Botanic Park and take pictures teach them something about our Island.

    But nooo, how would you feel if someone came and tied you up and be exposed to strangers just for .80cents!!

    Animal cruelty should be taken more seriously in the law and give Ms Baldino a fine to set an exmaple to the people in the Cayman Islands. Because I know for sure no one wants to feel cheap / get ran over / be chased to death.

    Enough is Enough take it into consideration Cayman, this is how tourists view our cultural of GREED.

    -Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.

    I’m appall to be a caymanian right now! #SadToSay

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  11. Quite cruel indeed. I wonder how many tourists supported this behavior by giving her 1 for a picture instead of telling her to let the iguana go and that they would not pay her a dime for this mean stunt.

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  12. What a laugh. She should have killed the ol greenie and had him stuffed. Thats more humane.

    How many of those appalled tourists used to trim their dogs nails only to find out that it caused the animals great pain? How many of them eat beef, chicken and pork raised in factory farms where the animals are feed the treated remains of culled animals. Feeding beef beef and so on. Trapped in a 10×10 space for their entire, miserable lives. That could be viewed as inhumane and appalling. Is the Us Govt prosecuting them? No way and no how.

    All you have to do is visit the midwest to see this. No trip to Haiti necessary.

    For the record, I am not a vegan.

    Candy_Chris,

    The green iguana is a introduced, non-native pest, plague, undesired nuisance just like the lion fish and mosquitos. Nobody that owns property much less property with fruit trees or a garden wants them around. So what if someone eats them. We are eating the lion fish in all the best restaurants so why cant someone eat iguana in the comfort of their home.

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  13. I saw this same treatment of a baby alligator in International Mall in Orlando. Unfortunately cruelty to animals is worldwide. Maybe it’s ignorance but think people who treat animals this way should be dealt with the way people who treat children this way would be.

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  14. I supposed the bleeding heart outrage is warranted, that iguana belongs on a stew. Hmmmm!

    It would be funny if it wasn’t not so sad to see these environmentalist PETA wackos to rather see a woman starve, than a green iguana being taped up for for a dollar. Unfortunately this is becoming prevalent in the Cayman Islands primary due to an imported Animal rights over human rights mentality. Which I find sickening.

    Don’t be surprised when more than 9/10th of Cayman waters are banned from any taking of sea life by these same vegan religion apologists.

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  15. Oh, so this is what it takes to rile up the masses in the Caymans. 16 comments on this poor iguana while your government fails to provide ordinary auditable financial documents–for years! While you wallow in your emotions, your government is scamming you. WAKE UP.

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  16. I was there in October and some kids had a very large green iguana taped up. (Also at Hell) Its feet were taped upon it’s back. It was terrible. One of the kids said to the one holding it…he can’t breathe, so the open the tape a little. It is a very sad thing. I don’t like to see things like this anywhere that I am. I don’t like the tgreen iguanas but I don’t want to see anything mistreated.

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  17. Is the animal being tortured – yes. In my opinion, is it wrong – yes.

    But, she is doing this to earn a simple living. This is not akin to taking shins off sharks, the animal is probably released will survive. Remember, if no one was paying her any money, she would not do this.

    Here we are in late 2012 where there are more slaves today than in any point in human history and there is pretty much nothing said about it. But a woman sells photos of a tied up iguana for 1 (making maybe 20 a day) and there are already 16 comments!

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  18. This confirms one more time that some Caymanian people still have stone age mentality. It applies to many aspects of their lives-how they treat animals, women, environment. It all starts with what was instilled with mother’s milk. If Cayman Islands see itself as one of the world’s financial centers, barbaric cultural traditions don’t go well with it.

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  19. The smiling face of the woman holding the iguana would add much to the story.
    No we don’t need no stinking conservation law in Cayman.
    Some people view nature’s only value is its capacity to be exploited.
    Is this what we want tourists coming to Cayman to see and to remember?

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  20. Come on Tourism Attraction Board, please make a positive example of this. Is this the TAB which also looks after the Botanic Park which has our wonderful blue iguana. Are these types of pictures going to be available there. I hope not! What a waste of government funds..wasting on this place. What a joke.

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  21. Many of these same bleeding heart animal rights activists in their own countries drive past starving homeless PEOPLE only to go and buy food for stray animals.

    Who is more important, the person or the animal?

    If this old lady was wearing rags and sitting down on piece of cardboard on the side of the road by the entrance of Hell, they would have walked across her without a second thought for her welfare.

    Justanotherperson was dead right. What about the people?

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  22. What is this tourist lady griping about? nothing is wrong with exterminating these ravenous creatures from the islands. Anyone who has a garden with fruit trees knows how hard it is to see these critters eating out the buds and blossoms hampering their yields of the plants and messing up the walls. My neighbor had to put zinc around the trunks of his fruit trees to keep them away from the buds and the young fruit, running up expenses in the process. I am not sparing them when they run across the road into the path of my vehicle and i routinely exterminate them from my premises when I see them.Government should implement a plan of extermination of these pests from the islands. Of course there is one other solution which many people will not adapt i.e. stew them. They make a tasty dish when prepared by a good cook.

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  23. Panama_Jack

    I don’t want to take your statements out of context but I do like the way you’ve expressed yourself.
    They are applicable to so many different circumstances.
    1)Some people view nature’s only value is its capacity to be exploited.
    Is this what we want tourists coming to Cayman to see and to remember?
    2)This is a perfect example of the difference in sensiblities in relationship to the treatment of nature.

    What I find outrageous is that more people have disagreed with me, in this article, than the total number of people who responded concerning the Brac Pond Sanctuary piece.
    Read the article and do a tally.
    Only 63 people!

    The response to this one photo of an invasive iguana on a stick versus the destruction of micro ecosystem has me baffled.
    But, at least, this article has raised quite a bit of controversy.

    What would it take for people to wake up—-a photo of 100 ducks tied to sticks!

    Apparently perception takes precedence over priorities.

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  24. I don’t think this lady meant any harm to the iguana. CayCompass reads, she thought she was giving visitors a chance to see an iguana up close. As you can clearly see it was regular tape not masking tape, and iguana wasn’t taped up tight. I am sure she released it the same day.

    BUT ANOTHER THING – I personally wouldn’t had taped the iguana. I would have brought a few medium size iguanas in a pen and hold one in my hands by a nearby tree. That way they can see and have a turn holding them. The medium-size and small ones dont bite – they are harmless. And if they should escape, the tree will serve the purpose that they don’t get harm or trampled on. They can always run up in the tree and the visitors will have a chance for a kodak moment; especially the kids.

    YOU DON’T NEED TO TAPE UP THESE IGUANAS OR KEEP THEM IN A CAGE. I CATCH THEM MANY TIMES WITH MY BARE HANDS, AND I SEE CHILDREN CLIMB TREES AND CATCH THEM. REALLY THE MEDIUM TO SMALL ONES ARE HARMLESS, AND I DON’T SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH MAKING A LITTLE PROFIT OFF OF THEM… WE HAVE SO MANY, WHY NOT?

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  25. The individuals who are outranking the rights of the green iguana versus the rights of the (former) wildlife sanctuary and disputing which article has enticed a greater number of comments are both missing the point.

    NEITHER group of animals deserve to be mistreated! Not for profit, not for cleaning up an eyesore, not for revenge, because they pooped in your pool or ate fruit off a tree. Pray tell me what crimes dogs are committing, that allow people to tie them up with no food or water, have collars imbedded in their necks or die of heatstroke in a locked car. Caymanians have done that too. They leave horses starving and thirsty too.

    We have consistently ignored animal welfare for the 33 years that I’ve been a living, breathing Caymanian. I salute the poster Chew for having the guts to say they are ashamed to be Caymanian right now-I am too.

    It is unheard of for people to be fined or jailed here for animal cruelty. They do what this woman did: Plead ignorance, weep and wail out a hard luck story, promise not to do it again and then if you check a new area of the district, or even the same one, three or six months later-there the person is right back doing business.

    Let her chop the top of a coconut and stick a straw in it to sell for a dollar. A man near the GT Port has a shopping cart full and does a roaring trade. Surely tourists in other parts of the country would appreciate coconut water to drink.

    I’ll bet people offered her more money to free the poor thing than to pose with it.

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  26. 1. Green iguanas are currently authorized to be culled.

    2. Green iguanas can be cooked and turned into delicious dishes (and no, I don’t know how to cook them, I have just eaten them in survivalism experiences in the Yucatan Peninsula jungle).

    3. If the culling of a green iguana is a go, it has to be done in a quick, skilled and humanitarian way.

    4. Green iguanas (or lionfish) do not deserve to be tortured, battered, mistreated or mishandled.

    5. This horrendous display presented in the picture implies, regardless of the excuse, a direct harm, avoidable animal distress, particularly due to the restrain and humiliation due to helplessness (which, BTW, is a term used to a very precise ethological-behavioural condition, so this is not just tree-hugging chicanery).

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  27. The woman that was exploiting the iguana could have used a tame iguana and put harmless on it and would have been able to make her money without displaying a animal Ina cruel manner. She could have also shared information on the iguana problem and the difference between the blue and green iguanas.
    All animals deserve to be treated in a humane manner!

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  28. I totally disagree for taping the iguana to make money. But I can see how desperate people are getting now. These woman find way of making money out of these poor creature, reality is she needs to bring money on their table. Which she rather taped the Iguana than steal laptops, or cellphones, or jewelries. I am so sorry about the Iguana and the lady.

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  29. @LifesABeach and others who want to make a general statement about ‘Caymanians’ because of this act, if we were to make stereotypical statements based on foreigners who come from countries where their own people are killing each other for no obvious reason yet claim to be world leaders, that will only keep all people in the ‘stone age’ and or uncultured. When almost every year, as an eg you can see in the news males in the USA killing co-workers because of job loss, university entrance refusal etc, we dont sit here and make sweeping statements that all Americans are crazy etc WE have enough sense respect to know some people do commit acts that are deplorable and not right but their actions should not result in putting down the people of an entire country.
    Guess not only the green iguana being forced to be quiet and take ill treatment in hopes of making money.

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  30. Since the green iguana is not a native species I would be interested to learn how it got there. Also, since the green and blue iguanas are, after all, both iguanas, would it not be conceivable that in the future you might have turquoise iguanas roaming your islands in the future, or do they not interbreed?

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  31. Also, it has been my impression that one can see iguanas up close and personal merely by going to where they reside in the Caymans, particularly Little Cayman (which I’m planning on visiting next year). I would much rather have a free roaming experience with an iguana (of any color) rather than pet one while it is taped to a board… even at the risk of being bitten, yes.

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  32. God you people are nuts. Haven’t you seen a crocodile tied up? ON TV? Is that cruel? Alligator? bulls at the rodeo?
    The poor woman tied it up because tourists were scared to touch it . The boy who did it first had a leash on it first and held it in his hand . People were frighten of it regardless. So to make money people want to touch it.
    But obviously you folks have never held an iguana in yours . the iguanas claws are RAZOR sharp and cuts very easily. You can notice iguanas on trees and buildings hanging on for hours. Iguanas use their tails for defense and slap people . they can be made tame but it takes time. Animal cruelty in most countries is selective .

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  33. Why would you need to do something like this except to make money. Anyone can pose and take a picture with wild green iguanas anywhere on the island. It’s all about the money no matter what the price to the precious wildlife which is your national treasure.

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  34. Examples need to be made of people who are cruel to animals or reptiles. She didn’t get a fine. She should have! Animal cruelty is not new to Cayman, and it seems most people look the other way. How many articles have we read about dogs being poisoned? A few months ago, a dog slowly approached me with his head down, as if afraid — and I noticed all his ribs showed. Upon closer look — he had a collar on that was so tight it was cutting into his skin, and no doubt, he was no longer able to eat. Probably put on as a puppy, then when he grew — discarded. Heavy fines are desperately needed here.

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  35. Iguana’s can be tamed with a little effort – Visit the Joe Tourist store and he has several available for photo opps without the tape – much more aesthatic for pictures and they will eat pieces of fruit out of your hand, sit on your shoulder like a parrot, or on your hat. They are fit and healthy and well looked after and relaxed iguanas make for great photos.

    That is the right way to do it and Gilbert takes the opportunity to enlighten, educate and entertain and is a font of knowledge on the flora, fauna and culture of Cayman. He is a great ambassador for the Cayman Islands and shows that it is possible to deliver a quality experience and respect the welfare of the animals.

    The lady in question was not providing a quality product for the tourists nor a quality of life for the iguana.

    Her 1 dollar photos will be on the web and make Cayman look like an ignorant and backward society to the whole world and could cost the Cayman tourist economy tens of thousands of dollars.

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  36. Hard for me to have too much sympathy for green igunanas as our back yard is plagued with them.

    They dig holes under shrubs and kill them, they poop in our pool and all over the patio. (Iguana poop is VERY toxic).

    But even I think the lady displayed poor judgement trussing it up and displaying it like that.

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  37. A fat lizard on a stick 41 comments, a Caymanian killed in Honduras, two comments.. It is told that the green iguana was brought to Cayman as food source by people from Honduras. A Caymanian has a fat lizard on a stick, and it runs in the paper for days, the FCO writes an article to the people of Cayman and it runs for one.. What happen to kill all of green Iguana.. Ask the lizard and he will tell you he is making a living, fat, and much better off than those road kills everyone keeps running over.. Got the feeling someone is trying to discredit Cayman by any means possible?.

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