Rescued Lizards Find Sanctuary at Detroit Zoo


ROYAL OAK — The Detroit Zoo is caring for eight lizards that were among nearly 350 confiscated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September. The Sahara spiny-tailed (Uromastyx geyri) and mastigure (Uromastyx dispar) lizards were being smuggled into the United States from Mali when they were intercepted.

According to the organization, the lizards were poached from the wild and destined for the pet trade. Due to the inhumane methods used to ship the animals and the conditions they were held in prior to their arrival in the United States, 200 of them died while in expert care within a few weeks of being seized.

The Detroit Zoological Society  agreed to provide a home for four of each species; the remaining surviving lizards were distributed to other zoological institutions.

“These eight lizards represent a global crisis in wildlife trafficking. Many individual animals die in situations like this, and the impacts on wild populations can be catastrophic,” says Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer.

The lizards arrived in late November in poor condition and are receiving daily care and observation in quarantine, which will likely last for six months or longer. Once out of quarantine, the lizards will be seen at the Holden Reptile Conservation Center.