Fort Worth Zoo Celebrate Release of Horned Lizards

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: September 18, 2021 1:59 am

Texas Horned Lizard

The 1000th Texas horned lizard to be bred at the Fort Worth Zoo is pictured alongside a bracelet charm

Photo Credit: Amanda Carberry/ Columbus Zoo and Aquairum

Fort Worth Zoo have celebrated the release of 204 captive bred Texas horned lizards including 100 hatched at the zoo. The release follows the exciting discovery that hatchlings from previous years are now breeding in the wild.

The Texas horned lizard is one of 1,300 species of concern found in Texas. Currently a bipartisan proposal is currently making its way through congress, the Recovering America’s Wildlife act which would provide funding to save the Texas horned lizard and hundreds of other species.

Texas Horned Lizard

Staff from Fort Worth Zoo and Texas Parks and Wildlife work to tag Texas horned lizards before their release in to the wild

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Over the past 10 years, the Texas horned lizard coalition made up of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Christian University and zoos in Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere have worked to restore Texas horned lizards to former habitats.

This has led to successful reintroduction efforts at TPWD’s Mason Mountain and Muse Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) following extensive restoration to the habitat there.

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Originally the researchers worked to translocate wild lizards on to the WMAs. They provided a wealth of valuable data but unfortunately faced high mortality having been killed by predators. It was also seen as unsustainable long-term to continue capturing wild adults.

In recent years the focus has moved on to breeding in zoos. The Texas horned lizard produces large clutches and can have many of them each year. This allows the release of hundreds of lizards at once.

Texas Horned Lizard

A hatchling Texas horned lizard sits on a keepers shirt at Fort Worth Zoo

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Fort Worth developed the breeding and husbandry protocols used to care for this species in managed collections. These have been put in to place at several other zoos increasing the population.

Last week Fort Worth Zoo welcomed its 1,000th hatchling as part of the program.

It was a great week for the Texas horned lizard with news also coming from the field that the first hatchlings born to zoo-raised hatchlings were found at Mason Mountain WMA. This is the first time that captive-raised individuals have lived long enough in the wild to reproduce.

Texas Horned Lizard

Staff from Fort Worth Zoo and Texas Parks and Wildlife work to tag Texas horned lizards before their release in to the wild

Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Learn more about Lizards here – Lizard Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Fort Worth Zoo on their website – Fort Worth Zoo

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