Департамент культуры MOSCOW ZOO WAS MANAGED TO GET THE OFFSPRING OF THE BORNEO EARLESS MONITOR FOR THE FIRST TIME IN WORLD ZOO PRACTICE

MOSCOW ZOO WAS MANAGED TO GET THE OFFSPRING OF THE BORNEO EARLESS MONITOR FOR THE FIRST TIME IN WORLD ZOO PRACTICE

10.10.2018

The cub of a rare island reptile was born on July 30 in the capital zoo. This is the first case in history of earless monitor breeding in the conditions of the zoo: no zoo or zoological institute was able to achieve a complete reproduction of Borneo monitor lizards in captivity before.

This species is listed in the International Red book as endangered. Only a few zoos in the world can boast of having such a unique specimen in their collection. Over the past few years, Borneo monitor lizard has periodically appeared in 2-3 zoos of the world in single copies confiscated during illegal importation. Nowadays in addition to Moscow zoo, Borneo monitor lizard can be found in zoos of Prague, Budapest and Neunkirchen (Germany). Currently, probably two or three private collections in the United States, Spain and Japan have this specimen.

Moreover, the total number of Borneo monitor lizards in nature is unknown because the habitat of the species is limited only to the north-west of Borneo Island. Until the middle of the last century, there was little information about the Borneo monitor lizard; moreover, the locals themselves did not even know about its existence. The fact that this reptile is exclusively nocturnal and covert as well, masterfully masquerading among the stones and snags. During the day, the lizards are hiding in deep holes dug in the ground, mainly on the banks of ponds. They swim and dive perfectly, holding their breath for a long time. The basis of their diet is earthworms.

Among modern reptiles, the earless monitor lizard is the closest relative of mosasaurs extincted by the end of the Cretaceous period. Its size is rather small (body length including the tail of adult specimen reaches about 40 cm); the limbs of the monitor lizard are little reduced, the color can vary from dark brown to reddish-brown. The external auditory orifice of these reptiles is absent - they got their unusual name particularly thanks to this feature. Earless monitor lizard has a hearing, but the lack of eardrum affects its ability to hear surround sounds. Another interesting feature of this species is its poison: an earless monitor lizard has toxic saliva, paralyzing its prey.

Moscow zoo got a group of monitor lizards for temporary keeping, which was confiscated among other animals illegally imported into the country from Hong Kong in November 2016. Like most rare species, the Borneo monitor lizard is of great interest to the shadow business and its price on the black market is determined by many thousands of US dollars.

It was possible to get the offspring of a monitor lizard through careful selection of pairs, the creation of detention conditions, as close as possible to the natural (maximally close to), and the optimal diet.

"At the moment, 6 cubs from two different females have hatched. After leaving the eggs, newborns lead a completely independent life without the participation of parents, both in nature and in terrarium conditions. Now our employees continue to monitor the newborns carefully. All young specimens will remain at the zoo until puberty and reproduction. The results obtained in the course of research of behavior and reproduction characteristics of Borneo monitor lizards, conducted by our herpetologists, are of great scientific value for the whole zoological community. Perhaps, thanks to them, it will be possible to create a stable population of this species in captivity and protect it from extinction," – Moscow zoo CEO Svetlana Akulova said.