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Ford Receives a Rare Specimen in an Auto Parts Shipment

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On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 9:38AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Receives a Rare Specimen in an Auto Parts Shipment

In recent automotive news, it seems that Ford Motor Company is importing more than cars to its Sterling Heights Van Dyke Transmission Plant.  A very rare lizard, thought to have stowed away in a shipment of automotive transmission parts, now has a new home in the Detroit Zoo. The lizard, a Yucatan Spiny-Tailed Iguana, was discovered on a Ford loading dock in Detroit on July 29th.

To illustrate how rare the creature really is: it is said that this particular lizard can be found only in a 1,200 square mile area of the Yucatan Peninsula.  
One of the smallest ( usually only up to a foot), yet most vividly colored, of the 14 spiny-tailed iguana species is the Yucatan Spiny-Tailed Iguana. Typically, it is a rainbow of colors, with a blue head, black and white chest, red lower back, and a grey, heavily armored tail. This tail has several rows of tiny spines, giving the species its common name of ‘spiny-tailed.' On average, male Yucatan spiny-tailed iguanas tend to be slightly larger than females and the species is not known to be poisonous despite its bright color. 

A safety engineer at the Ford plant contacted local Animal Control after the strange creature was first discovered. Sterling Heights Animal Control assisted in getting the iguana moved to a temporary home at the Sterling Heights Nature Center, then the Detroit Zoological Society was notified the following day and the lizard was offered a permanent residence at the zoo.

Jeff Junt, spokesperson at the Detroit Zoo, explained that the zoo is often asked to help rescue a variety of exotic animals, but normally the rescue takes place in owners' homes, roadside zoos, or even at circuses when animals need rescuing. “This is a unique and rare rescue situation. This particular species is from a localized area in Mexico and it’s uncommon to see them in zoos,” said Jundt.

Currently the iguana is being kept in quarantine until it is determined that the reptile’s health checks out okay. In the fall the iguana is scheduled to join a Black Iguana at the Holden Museum of Living Reptiles, located within the Detroit Zoo.

The Detroit Zoo, a non-profit organization, is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day (with extended hours until 8 p.m. Wednesdays during July and August), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. For more information visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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