His defense strategy is extraordinary: in the event of danger, the armored belt tail bites its tail and curls up into a ring. This protects his vulnerable belly side. The South African mini kites have now had offspring in the Schönbrunn Zoo. “In Europe there are currently only five zoos in which armored belt tails live. The fact that the offspring are successful is something very special, ”says zoo director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck proudly. “There have been two young animals since September 27th. In these lizards, the eggs develop in the mother's body, where the young hatch and are born alive. ”The little ones are backstage, but six adult animals can be admired in the desert house in front of the zoo's gates. Atypical for reptiles, they live in social associations.
FORT WORTH - Once common, the Texas horned lizard is now one of more than 1,300 species of concern across the state. But there is good news for the little “horned toad.” Today, a coalition of zoos and wildlife scientists released 204 captive-raised hatchlings into the wild (100 of them hatched at the Fort Worth Zoo), and this follows new evidence this year that previously released lizards are now reproducing. Meanwhile, a landmark bipartisan proposal now moving through Congress, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, would bring the resources needed to save this species and hundreds like it.
For more than 10 years, the Texas Horned Lizard Coalition, including Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Christian University and zoos in Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere, has been studying how to restore Texas horned lizards to formerly occupied habitats. Reintroduction efforts have happened at TPWD’s Mason Mountain and Muse Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) where extensive habitat management and restoration have provided vital “new homes” for the lizard.
Researchers tried translocating adult lizards, capturing them in the wild and then releasing them on the WMAs. This provided a wealth of valuable data, but it also highlighted challenges. Many relocated lizards died, killed by predators. Normal wild mortality ranges from 70-90% and scientists have seen this with translocated adults. Also, capturing and translocating sufficient adults in the wild to establish self-sustaining populations may prove unsustainable long-term.
For these reasons, in recent years the focus has shifted to captive breeding Texas horned lizards at partner zoos, which makes it possible to breed and release hundreds of lizards at once. Texas horned lizards have large clutch sizes with many eggs, often with multiple clutches each year.
The Fort Worth Zoo developed the breeding and husbandry protocols required to successfully breed and care for these animals in managed collections. These practices have since been implemented and modeled at several zoos around the state. The Fort Worth Zoo has the longest-running captive breeding effort in Texas and, in fact, the zoo hatched its 1,000th Texas horned lizard last week.
This August at Mason Mountain WMA, after years of captive-raised hatchling releases, TPWD biologists and graduate students discovered a breakthrough milestone. They found 18 hatchlings believed to be offspring of zoo-raised hatchlings released in 2019. To their knowledge, this marks the first time that captive-reared horned lizards have survived long enough to successfully reproduce in the wild.
Biologists remain optimistic that continued research and restoration work will ultimately lead to self-sustaining wild populations of Texas horned lizards. But they say the Recovering America's Wildlife Act would provide the funding needed to make this dream a reality. People can learn how to help in the online toolkit of the Texas Wildlife Alliance, a grass roots coalition formed to support RAWA.
In January customs handed over 70 chameleons to Schönbrunn Zoo, which were taken from a smuggler at Vienna Airport. The reptiles from Tanzania were hidden in socks, dehydrated and full of parasites. How well the animals have recovered from the exertions thanks to the professional care is now once again clear. “Almost every one of the ten chameleon species has now laid eggs with us. In the wild, every one is at risk from habitat degradation and smuggling. The first to hatch was the Nguru dwarf chameleon, which is even threatened with extinction due to its small distribution area,” reports zoo director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck proudly. Adult Nguru dwarf chameleons are only six centimeters tall. The tiny young animals measure just one centimeter when they hatch. There is also half a centimeter of tail.
The Schönbrunn Zoo is always the first point of contact for customs in the case of rare, confiscated species. But the chameleons were a challenge even for the experts. “These chameleon species have hardly been kept in human care until now. We contacted the few owners and did meticulous research in order to meet the requirements of the animals, ”says zoological curator Anton Weissenbacher. The effort is enormous: a separate room was set up. A zoo keeper was kept busy just looking after the chameleons all day. The Nguru dwarf chameleon has never been bred in a zoo before. In the past two weeks, 12 young animals have hatched in Schönbrunn. It is now hoped to be able to build up reserve populations in human care with the existing animals and the offspring in order to counteract the extinction of these species.
Special thanks to Octavia Buschhaus for the video voice-over translation:
Two baby Madagascar Giant Day Geckos (Phelsuma grandis) hatched last month from eggs laid by adults currently living in the rainforest habitat at the Tennessee Aquarium.
In spite of their name, the babies are only a few inches long right now. The Aquarium's experts are caring for these tiny reptiles behind the scenes in a special Gecko nursery.
The Aquarium’s herpetology team says the pair are currently growing well and “eating like champs.”
The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko has a bright green body with brilliant red markings. The red markings fade as the Gecko ages, so the adults are mostly green in color. In the wild, these Geckos feed on insects, small reptiles, nectar and pollen. Adults can grow to around 12 inches in length.
Geckos are a type of Lizard. Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are native to the tropical forests of northern Madagascar, and a few other locations to which they have been introduced by humans.
Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are rumored to be the inspiration for the Geico Gecko of advertising fame.
Conservationists at Chester Zoo have celebrated an unprecedented number of births in 2018, including some of the world’s rarest and most at-risk species.
Adorable cub Kyra was the first Sun Bear to be born in the UK. Her birth was caught on the zoo’s CCTV cameras and people around the globe watched Kyra’s first moments with her mom. Kyra’s parents, Milli and Toni, were both rescued from poachers in Cambodia.
Conservationists estimate that less than 1,000 Sun Bears remain in the wild across Southeast Asia. Deforestation and commercial hunting for their body parts have decimated their numbers.
Critically endangered Western Chimpanzee Stevie was the first of her kind to be born at Chester Zoo in nearly 10 years.
Stevie’s birth followed a scientific project, spanning several years, which carefully assessed the genetics of all Chimpanzees in zoos across Europe. The study confirmed that the troop of Chimps at Chester Zoo is the highly-threatened West African subspecies – one of the rarest in the world – establishing them as a critically important breeding population. It is estimated that as few as 18,000 West African Chimpanzees now remain in the wild.
After an unusually long pregnancy believed to have lasted 25 months, Asian Elephant Thi Hi Way gave birth to a healthy male calf, who keepers named Anjan.
A major Chester Zoo project in Assam, northern India, has successfully found ways to eliminate conflict between local communities and the nearby Asian Elephant population, offering a blueprint for the future conservation of the species.
Greater One-horned Rhino
The momentous birth of Greater One-horned Rhino calf Akeno, born to mom Asha, was captured on CCTV cameras at the zoo.
Keepers watched as Asha delivered her calf safely onto to soft bedding after a 16-month-long gestation and 20-minute labor.
At one stage, the Greater One-horned Rhino was hunted almost to extinction and less than 200 survived in the wild. Thankfully, steps to protect the Rhinos were taken just in time and today there are around 3,500 in India and Nepal.
A rare Okapi calf named Semuliki arrived to first-time parents K’tusha and Stomp. The Okapi is found only deep in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its highly secretive nature contributed to it being completely unknown to science until 1901.
Despite being a national symbol and protected under Congolese law, Okapi populations declined in the wild by nearly 50% over the past two decades and the species is now listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A clutch of rare baby Bell’s Anglehead Lizards – also known as Borneo Forest Dragons – hatched at the zoo, helping conservationists uncover more about the species’ breeding patterns, life cycle and habits.
The Lizards’ wild south Asian habitat however, is being decimated to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations – a threat which is pushing many species in the region to the very edge of existence.
The birth of a tiny Silvery Gibbon astonished visitors to the zoo who were able to admire the infant just minutes after its birth.
Conservationists hailed the arrival of this highly endangered primate, with just 4,000 of its kind now remaining on the island of Java, Indonesia, where the species is now listed as endangered by the IUCN.
Keepers were tickled pink by the arrival of 21 Flamingo chicks. Each of the fluffy newcomers was carefully hand fed by the zoo’s bird experts four times a day for five weeks until they were developed enough to fully feed for themselves.
Flamingo chicks are white or grey in color when they first hatch, resembling little balls of cotton wool, and begin to develop their famous pink plumage at around six months old.
The first set of Babirusa triplets were born at the zoo, a huge boost to the species which has experienced a recent population crash on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Once considered fairly common, the rapid decline comes as result of hunting for their meat and habitat loss, which has seen Babirusas disappear from many parts of the island.
Eastern Black Rhino
The arrival of Jumaane, a rare Eastern Black Rhino calf, left a handful of lucky zoo visitors in shock as his birth took place right in front of them.
Conservationists now estimate that fewer than 650 Eastern Black Rhino remain across Africa – a staggeringly low number driven by an increase in poaching to meet demand for rhino horn, which supplies the traditional Asian medicine market.
The birth of Jumaane is another vital boost to the Europe-wide breeding program which is crucial for the conservation of this critically endangered species.
Five Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Geckos (Uroplatus henkeli) have arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo – the first-ever successful hatch at the zoo for this rare Lizard species. The hatchlings will be on exhibit at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House in the coming weeks.
The zoo’s Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Geckos were given a breeding recommendation from the Leaf-tailed Gecko Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which manages the species’ population throughout zoos accredited by the The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP recommendations – which determine the exact individuals that should breed with each other – are made using demographic and genetic analyses conducted by population biologists at the AZA Population Management Center, which is based at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Henkel's Leaf-tailed Geckos are named for their distinctive namesake tail. That remarkable appendage and their rough brown and green skin helps these Lizards camouflage themselves against tree bark with uncanny ease.
Tiny pads on the feet of Henkel's Leaf-tailed Geckos produce a strong adhesive effect, enabling them to climb and cling to a variety of surfaces. In the wild, these Lizards spend most of their time in the treetops, feeding on insects. They descend to the ground only when laying eggs in leaf litter on the forest floor.
Although adults can grow to 11 inches long, hatchlings are much tinier, as you can see in the photos. The newcomers are welcome arrivals for a species that is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
These Lizards are found only in Madagascar, where they face threats from logging operations and from deforestation as people burn the forest to make small farms. They are also collected illegally to supply the pet trade and are routinely taken from protected areas within Madagascar.
See more photos of the hatchlings below.
The population of critically endangered Jamaican Iguanas is on the rise, thanks in part to the efforts of researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research’s Kenneth and Anne Griffin Reptile Conservation Center (an off-exhibit breeding facility at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park).
Since September, four Jamaican Iguanas have hatched here from eggs of two different pairs of adult Iguanas. One egg from the first clutch hatched September 4, and three eggs from the second clutch hatched October 6, 7 and 11. With the addition of these four new animals, a total of 11 Jamaican Iguanas now reside at the Park’s Reptile Conservation Center.
The baby Iguanas now have a much lighter gray color overall, with more pronounced striping than they will have when they become adults. As they grow, their body will become dark gray and rust-colored, with greenish-blue highlights. Jamaican Iguanas continue to grow over their entire lifetime, and they can eventually reach up to three feet in length and weigh up to 15 pounds.
San Diego Zoo Global first received a group of Jamaican Iguanas in 1996: three males and three females. The first successful hatching of this critically endangered lizard occurred in 2013, with the birth of a female that still lives at the Reptile Conservation Center. She will become part of the center’s breeding program when a suitable mate can be found for her.
"I'm very pleased with the results of our work this year,” said Jeff Lemm, conservation program specialist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “Our job is to help make the animals successful at reproducing through the husbandry we provide, and it's fantastic that we are starting to achieve these goals."
The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) is found only in the tropical dry forests of the Hellshire Hills outside of Kingston, Jamaica. They are Jamaica’s largest native species and believed to be extinct in the 1940s. However, in 1990, a pig hunter’s dog found a live specimen and the Iguana was brought to the Hope Zoo in Kingston, Jamaica. That same year, a survey of the Hellshire Hills found a small population of fewer than 100, and researchers began a large-scale program to try to save this Iguana from extinction. Due to deforestation and threats from non-native animals (including mongooses, cats, dogs and pigs), the Jamaican Iguana is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Three colorful Chameleons, so tiny they each fit on the end of a finger, have hatched at Chester Zoo.
This is the first time the zoo has successfully bred the species, known as Cameroon Two-horned Mountain Chameleons. The first in a clutch of three eggs, laid by a female named Ruby, hatched in late August with two more following soon after.
Lead Herpetology Keeper Adam Bland said, “These Chameleons have a really unusual appearance. They’re sometimes referred to as the Cameroon Sailfin, owing to a sail-like flap of skin running along their backs. The males of the species boast two large horns just above their upper jaw which they use for jousting with other males.”
“Even as babies they have their iconic large eyes which, at their current size, may appear a little too big for their body. However these give them 360° arc vision so they can see in two different directions at once and look out for predators,” added Bland.
As the name suggests, the Cameroon Two-horned Mountain Chameleons live at altitude in the West African nation of Cameroon. These lizards are usually green in color, but males turn blue when trying to attract a mate.
Dr Gerardo Garcia, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at the zoo, added, “These Chameleons are thought to live in just 10 locations in the highlands of Cameroon as they only thrive at a very particular altitude (between 700m and 1,900m), in very specific forest habitat. As much of the highlands of Cameroon comprise of savannah and grasslands, it really restricts their range. Sadly, with that already small amount of available habitat being affected by human activity - degradation, agriculture and climate change - it’s making these Chameleons more and more vulnerable.
“Another big threat to their survival is the international pet trade. Thousands of live Chameleons have been taken from the wild and traded from Cameroon in the last dozen years,” Garcia added. The species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
See more photos of the little lizards below!
Tulsa Zoo’s Reptile and Aquatics department recently announced the hatching of six Desert Iguanas. The little lizards are currently on display in the Zoo’s Conservation Center reptile nursery.
The Desert Iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) is one of the most common lizards. It is native to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They are also found on several Gulf of California islands.
The Desert Iguana is a blunt, medium-sized lizard that grows to a maximum size of about 61 cm (24 in), including the tail. They are grayish tan to cream in color, with a light brown reticulated pattern on their backs and sides. The belly is pale. During the breeding season, the sides become pinkish in both sexes.
Their preferred habitat is largely contained within creosote bushes on mainly dry, sandy desert scrubland below 1,000 m (3,300 ft). They can also be found in rocky streambeds. In the southern portion of its range, this lizard lives in areas of arid subtropical scrub and tropical deciduous forest.
The Desert Iguana can withstand high temperatures and are out and about after other lizards have retreated into their burrows. If threatened, they will scamper into a shrub and go quickly down a burrow. Burrows are usually dug in the sand under bushes like the creosote. They are also known to use burrows of kit foxes and desert tortoises.
Mating takes place in the early spring. One clutch of eggs is laid each year, and each clutch will have three to eight eggs.
Desert Iguanas are primarily herbivorous, eating buds, fruits and leaves of many annual and perennial plants.
Birds of prey, foxes, rats, long-tailed weasels, some snakes, and humans are all known predators of this lizard and their eggs. The Desert Iguana is currently classified as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Cotswold Wildlife Park has become the first zoological collection in the UK to breed the rare Chinese Crocodile Lizard.
The sex of the newborn is currently unknown, and the baby Lizard is currently off-show in the specialist Reptile rearing room. However, visitors to Cotswold can see the adults in their enclosure in the Reptile House. In the future, the newest Lizard will go on to be part of a breeding programme for this rare species.
The Chinese Crocodile Lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) is semiaquatic and found only in the cool forests of the Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou Provinces of southern China, and the Quảng Ninh Province in northern Vietnam. Very little is known about this rare species. It was first collected in 1928, and it remains the most recently named Lizard genus.
The species is viviparous, meaning it gives birth to live young. It has a gestation period of approximately nine months and litters consist of between 1-12 young.
In the wild, it frequently spends hours, motionless, perched on rocks or branches above slow-moving streams and ponds.
Due to habit destruction, illegal poaching, capture for the pet trade, and local consumption, population numbers of this Lizard are under serious threat. Unfortunately, this species is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Lizard’s ability to remain immobile for hours, occasionally days, led to the belief that it could cure insomnia. In China they are also known as “the sleeping serpent”.