LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Officials from the Little Rock Zoo have announced that 43 eastern collared lizards, otherwise known as mountain boomers, found a new home last week in the Arkansas Ozarks.

The project came as part of a partnership between the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, the University of Arkansas, University of Central Arkansas and the Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Eastern collared lizards are listed as a species of greatest conservational need in Arkansas and are also some of the largest lizards found in the state.

Some males of the species can reach up to 14 inches long and they feature vibrant yellow, green and teal colors, while females feature more muted greens with red-orange markings.

While this is not the zoo’s first attempt at relocating eastern collared lizards, this does mark the first time that the zoo has worked with researchers and biologists to introduce the lizards into a newly restored habitat.

For the last year, the conservation partners have worked on collaborative efforts including a captive propagation program at the zoo to provide lizards for reintroductions to restored habitat sites. Last week’s release was the first of many planned for the future.

According to the AGFC’s code of wildlife regulations, the release of any animal into the wild is illegal unless done with prior permission from AGFC. Given those restrictions, the agency worked very closely with the zoo to collect lizards to be bred at the zoo and then release their yearling offspring into the proper habitat once the zoo hatched and raised them. 

To learn more about the habitat and the lizards, visit Arkansas Game & Fish online.