Rescued Rainforst Lizard’s Adorable Babies

Adorable offspring of endangered rainforest chameleons rescued from animal traffickers in Austria.

The youngster is one of four who were born after their mother was found being smuggled through Vienna Airport.

Now heartwarming footage from the city’s Schoenbrunn Zoo has emerged showing one of the babies as it takes its early steps out of its tiny vivarium.

The youngster is seen cautiously clambering over the index finger of a reptile housekeeper.

Smaller than their thumb, the hatchling bobs up and down swivelling its eyes in different ways, a skill that will later come in handy for hunting down insects to eat.

Schoenbrunn Zoo/Newsflash

But at the moment it seems more interested in the huge world around it and completely ignores a juicy fly as it lands on the keeper’s finger.

After a minute, she places the baby back in its enclosure marked ‘Achtung Jungtier’, or ‘Danger Young Animals’.

The footage continues showing keepers spraying vivariums with a water mister, trying to replicate the forest environment of the lizard’s native habitat in Tanzania.

Keepers identified the youngsters as Usambara two-horned chameleon (Kinyongia vosseleri), also known as the Vosseler’s blade-horned chameleon.

The species is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.

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Newsflash obtained a statement from Vienna Zoo on 6th February saying: “Four tiny Vosseler two-horned chameleons have hatched – an important contribution to the preservation of their species, because like more than a quarter of all animal and plant species, they are severely threatened by habitat loss.”

The statement also said: “As part of the global ‘Reverse the Red’ initiative, Schoenbrunn Zoo works together with other zoos, nature conservation organisations, ministries and other partners to counteract the extinction of species through strategic cooperation and to maintain stable, healthy populations.”

Zoo director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck explained: “According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN), more and more species are being classified as highly endangered.

Photo shows adult male chameleon at Zoo Vienna, undated. Offspring of critically endangered chameleons on ‘Reverse the Red Day’. (Daniel Zupanc/Newsflash)

“These are threatened primarily by loss of habitat, mostly due to human influence. But we humans can also reverse this negative trend.

“As part of ‘Reverse the Red’, the current threat status of species is recorded by teams of experts. This way, we can work together to develop a strategy for their long-term preservation.”

Further footage shows adult blade-horned chameleons, part of the zoo’s endangered species breeding programme.

The clips were released to make Reverse the Red Day on 7th February to show stories of successful species protection.

The zoo’s statement continued: “The males of this chameleon species have conspicuous horns that are reminiscent of an oversized nose.

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“Their natural range in eastern Africa is tiny. Due to habitat destruction, Vosseler’s two-horned chameleons are critically endangered.

“If the habitat is completely lost, the species will be extinct in the wild.

“In addition, these bizarre-looking chameleons are illegally caught and smuggled into Europe or the USA.

Photo shows chameleon Cub at Zoo Vienna, undated. Offspring of critically endangered chameleons on ‘Reverse the Red Day’. (Daniel Zupanc/Newsflash)

“The parents of the Schoenbrunn offspring were also confiscated at Vienna Airport in 2021.

“The zoo is now helping to build a reserve population outside of the natural habitat.”

Zoo director Hering-Hagenbeck added: “As one of the first participants in the ‘Reverse the Red’ campaign, we support endangered species all over the world.

“It’s a race against time, but it will work if we all work together.”

To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below. Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Thomas Hochwarter, Agency: Newsflash

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