A Hong Kong zoo is appealing to the public for help after a famous lizard went missing when it slipped through a small opening while being treated for an injured toe.
The water monitor lizard, named Aberdeen, reportedly disappeared from Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden on 11th August.
The zoo issued a public appeal to help find Aberdeen on 18th August, worried it might run out onto a road and get run over.
Staff said they have been searching for Aberdeen for days after it knocked down a piece of wood and slipped through the gap while its foot was being treated for an injury.
The eight-year-old, 1.5-metre (five-foot) long lizard has been living at the zoo after it was rescued from illegal pet trade.
During its time at Kadoorie Farm, Aberdeen has become an animal ambassador, helping thousands of visitors better understand the habits and behaviours of reptiles.
Its caregivers who have been with it for many years said they miss it dearly and are extremely concerned for its well-being.
The zoo urged the public to immediately call them if they come across it.
Staff also advised against attempting to capture it because despite not being aggressive, it has a strong build and can try to put up a fight if confined.
Wong Long-yin, a spokesperson for the Amphibian and Reptile Adoption Department of the Hong Kong Herpetological Society, said that Aberdeen will likely try and stay close to water.
Wong said that since the lizard has been kept in captivity, it might not be afraid of humans. It could enter residential areas and potentially harm cats and dogs.
Therefore, he urged residents to be cautious.
The Asian water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator), locally known as the “five-clawed golden dragon,” is a nationally protected wildlife species.
The South and Southeast Asia native can grow up to 10 feet (three metres) in length and live up to 30 years.
It is one of the world’s largest lizards, second only to the Komodo dragon.
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Story By: Simona Kitanovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Asia Wire Report
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