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  • Writer's pictureAna Sofia Chamorro

Wild and Free at St. Augustine

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

It’s time to admire and protect the wildlife that we’ve grown up with

Every day as we rush through the hallways trying to get to our next class, hundreds of exceptional animals walk under our noses. We’ve seen dogs, chickens, tarantulas, caterpillars, wasps, and squirrels; but did you know that green iguanas have also walked the grounds of our school? Just last week, one of these entered the Science Lab and was photographed by Ms. Szachy García, the 7th and 10th-grade Civics teacher.

Despite looking like a green, miniature version of Godzilla, this iguana cowered in the corner of the Science Lab until a maintenance worker escorted it out. Picture: Szachy García.

The green iguana, scientifically called Iguana iguana, is a type of lizard that belongs to the reptile family. They generally populate areas with tropical climates and rain forests like Nicaragua, spending most of their lives in the uppermost branches of trees, only leaving to mate or lay eggs. Green iguanas are one of the largest types of iguanas considering they can weigh up to 6 kg and measure around 2 meters.

The specimen that entered our Science Lab has what is called a pendulous dewlap, which is a crest of the dermal spine under the throat that runs all the way to the tail. Iguanas display scales on their entire body; however, as they near the head, they become larger and more imperfect. They have razor-sharp teeth and sharptails, which they can use to get away from predators. Luckily, this one did not put up a fight when coaxed out.

Interestingly, despite being named green iguana, the color in this species varies from green to brown depending on the following factors: age, mood, temperature, and social status. For example, the color of their skin aids them through thermoregulation. When the sun is low, their skin color will be greener and darker in order to absorb more sunlight, but when the sun is high, their skin tone will be paler to reflect the rays and avoid absorbing abundant heat. According to National Geographic, iguanas can live up to 20 years!

That last fact got me thinking. This particular iguana could have been born around the time our school was founded… or at the very least, it was here when this campus was built and witnessed the very first students invading its territory… What a thought!

Such fascinating creatures accompany us throughout our day. As a school community, we must take care of our fauna because it is us who will be affected if we don’t.

But, why should we care for these animals? Well, iguanas, just like every other animal that lives on school grounds, help keep our ecosystem functional. For example, Iguana Iguanas are crucial seed disperses, without which plants would die, according to the National Institute for Conservation of Nature.

The environment and animals are a very important part of our daily lives; we must protect it. On May 22, 2021, also known as Biodiversity day, the infamous 19-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg released a video emphasizing the need of taking care of animals. She says, ”Our relationship with nature is broken. But relationships can change. When we protect nature- we are Nature protecting itself.”

I think that an issue in our community is the lack of interest in rightfully caring for the flora and fauna that surrounds us daily. However, we can change this, together! You can start with the minimum, like throwing away the trash in the recycling bin, or instead of pouring water down the drain beside the halls, use it to water plants.

Green Turn Club was founded by 10th grader Isabel Caldera, who three years ago was inspired by the global environmental crisis. “Our mission is to spark a change,” Isabel said. “Climate change and the environment are interdisciplinary subjects; they touch every aspect of our daily lives. That’s one thing I love about the club.”

Lucia Salvo, Valentina Mierisch, and Adriana Martinez are all part of Green Turn. Recently they contributed by doing posters and painting boxes for the Green Turn Clothing Drive. Donations will be given to the church “San José de Ticuantepe.” Picture: Ana Sofia Chamorro.

Perhaps there would be more participation if students actually gained in exchange for protecting nature. For example, if for taking care of a garden at home or at school students received service hours, then we could see more results. In addition, there could even be a spirit week dedicated merely to being eco-friendly! The challenge could be this: each student is given a seed of the same tree to plant and nurture for a month, and by the end of the semester, the seed that has grown and prospered the most would win a prize! Then, all of the trees that survived could be planted on school grounds and continue to be taken care of by us, students.

This chicken is always roaming around the Science hall, dodging through students’ steps and mingling with the ladies from the cafeteria. I assume it has grown up around us and gotten to know us as its family! Picture: Ana Sofia Chamorro.

Iguanas are not the only extraordinary creature around us, in fact, you can see a new one hallway after hallway. Maria Jimenez says the most shocking animal she’s ever seen inside the school was a cow! Likewise, Green Turn isn’t the only way to take care of these animals and to take a course of action against climate change.

You can start your own journey of appreciation as you admire the wild and free life that accompanies you from class to class. What is one animal you always see around campus that you’ve come to admire? Leave a comment and post a picture of it here. Your animal could be featured in an upcoming article!

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