Jamaican iguana hatchling

This tiny reptile is a big deal.

The critically endangered male Jamaican iguana hatched on Aug. 30 at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.  

Its arrival means that the zoo has successfully bred the three most endangered lizard species in the world: the Grand Cayman iguana, the Anegada iguana and now the Jamaican iguana.

In the 1940s, the Jamaican iguana, which only lives in the island’s tropical dry forests, was thought to be extinct. But half a century later, in 1990, a pig hunter’s dog caught one, and it was brought to the Hope Zoo in Kingston.

After that, a small population was found in the Hellshire Hills, but despite efforts to save them, deforestation and the arrival of non-native animals in the area have lead to the iguanas’ critically endangered status.