The incident last week of a woman offering tourists a photo opportunity to pose with a trussed up live green iguana was not the first time authorities were alerted to the mistreatment of an iguana in Hell in West Bay.
Four months earlier, in July, a tourist contacted the United States-based animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, about a similar case involving a boy who was asking tourists if they wanted to have their picture taken with a tied-up iguana in Grand Cayman.
Stephanie Bell, associate director of PETA’s cruelty investigation department, said her organisation alerted Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts, known as CARE, on 6 July, as well as the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and sent a photograph the tourist had taken of the boy holding a large green iguana that had its legs tied and bound behind its back. The boy was pictured with a little girl who is posing with the animal.
The Department of Tourism notified the Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture about the case. According to an e-mail sent from the Department of Tourism to CARE, the Department of Agriculture’s enforcement officer had earlier been contacted about the case and had spoken to the boy, who has since not been seen with any captive iguanas at the site.
Ms Bell said she was concerned that the episode had been repeated by another individual at the same tourist attraction. “We’re very alarmed,” she said.
“I think members of the public reporting incidents like these are absolutely critical, so local authorities can be made aware and take action,” Ms Bell added.
Last week, the Department of Agriculture delivered a warning to a woman who had been offering tourists in Hell a chance to have their photos taken with a green iguana for $1. That iguana’s legs and mouth were bound by tape and the animal was taped to a piece of wood.
The non-indigenous green iguanas, which are considered pests, have no protection under the Animals Law. However, it is an offence under the law to treat any animal cruelly.
Ms Bell said animals that are considered pests or nuisances should be treated humanely. “Even if a species is not protected, it does not mean that a particular animal is capable of any less suffering or fear,” she said.