Texas Zoo Staff Releases 50 Baby Horned Lizards into the Wild: VIDEO

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Chris Raven / EyeEm

In an amazing video, viewers saw the exact moment when zoo staff released 50 Texas horned lizards into the wild. The event took place on September 28. Before, the horned lizards had been born at the San Antonio Zoo as part of a project to reintroduce the creatures to the wild.

The odd-looking lizard, also known as the horny toad, is native to Central Texas and once thrived in the area.

However, since the 160s, the species’ populations have declined or disappeared entirely in Texas. They’ve seen habitat loss, the introduction of exotic grasses and imported fire ants, and the use of pesticides. As a result, the lizard is now classified as threatened in the state.

The creatures are flat-bodied reptiles with multiple, distinctive horns around its body with two central head spines.

The reptile’s pointy appearance helps it blend into its environment. In addition, the feature makes them look less appealing to feast on for its predators. Horned lizards are also known for their capability to shoot blood from their eyelids to defend against predators.

They’re also most commonly found in arid, open areas with little to no plant cover and in loose sand or soil.

In a video posted to Facebook by Texas Parks and Wildlife, viewers can see several baby horned lizards being released. One-by-one the lizards are released into a ranch. They were previously transported to the area in plastic tubs.

Horned lizards set to have a better chance for survival in the wild

Now, officials hope the lizards will have a better chance to thrive in their natural environment. In addition, they are expected to chomp on harvester ants.

In addition, the San Antonio Zoo said the release was a great step forward for its Texas Horned Lizard Reintroduction Project. Officials launched the project in 2017.

“This is our 3rd release. We have seen evidence after each effort that lizards are alive and thriving on the landscape,” said Dr. Andy Gluesenkamp. He is the director of the Center for Conservation & Research at San Antonio Zoo, in a press release.

Before the release, officials documented each lizard’s genetics, and the release site was also recorded via GPS. Next, trained dogs help researchers find the lizards’ feces in the wild after release.

Hopefully, this result can provide researchers with vital data. Scientists can study the data to see how old the lizards are and how far they have moved. Researchers also hope this will eventually be able to tell which zoo lizards are mating.

On June 29, San Antonio Zoo announced the successful hatching of 34 horned lizards, coinciding with Texas Horned Lizard Day. During the event, Tim Morrow, CEO of the zoo, called the reptiles “a state icon.”