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Critical Care for a Colorful Lizard

May 2, 2019

Critical Care for a Colorful Lizard

- as seen by -

Stephanie Ahrens Stephanie Ahrens

It is amazing that a desert species could have such vibrant colors.

Ornate uromastyx (Uromastyx ornata ornata) are a species of spiny-tailed lizards that are native to Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. They are found in desert rock crevices where the rainfall is just about nonexistent. The male uromastyx in the photo (above) is a part of a large confiscation. These animals were whisked from their native land with the intent of illegally importing and selling them into the United States pet trade. Luckily, they were confiscated upon arrival and brought to the Wildlife Health Center at WCS’s Bronx Zoo where we have been caring for them ever since.

There are a lot of challenges that come with a confiscation including: numbers can be large and daunting, shipping conditions are unknown and often inappropriate, and the animals can arrive in quite critical condition. Our team has intensively cared for these animals, and it is gratifying seeing them respond to treatments. As they have improved in health, those colors have become even more vibrant.

EDITOR’ S NOTE: The story of the care of uromastyx at the Bronx Zoo was featured on a recent episode of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO now in its third season. The series takes viewers behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo and the other WCS wildlife parks in New York City to tell powerful, compelling stories of animals and their care givers, and the zoos’ contribution to conserving wildlife around the globe.

Nikon D5

Bronx, US Map It


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Lauren McGuire
July 10, 2019 at 4:58 pm

I saw the episode and was just wondering how they were doing? I know a number of them were in terrible shape and I believe they passed, but what happened to the rest? Thank you for saving the ones that you could!

Tom Otto
November 10, 2020 at 6:37 pm

Photographer friends in Algeria [mid Sahara] photographed this lizard./Users/tomotto/Desktop/african lizzard. .png
/Users/tomotto/Desktop/african lizzard. .png.pdf
It probably will not open.