As surely as there is a beginning to something, there ultimately is an end. This is especially true with all living beings on our planet. For the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Bengal Monitor Lizard, the end of this cycle of life came as a result of health related complications.
On the 15th of May it was decided that the Bengal Monitor Lizard (Veranus bengalensis), affectionately known as Lil’ B, be put to sleep. This decision was based on veterinary findings and much observation prior to the decision.
Bengal Monitor Lizards have an average life span of about 12 years and Lil’ B reached the age of 15, so some of the veterinary staff and keeper staff had been keeping a close eye on him for two to three years. Lil’ B initially began slowing down due to his old age. He ate less, he would injure himself moving around his enclosure because of arthritis, his wounds would take longer to heal with repeated injury, and with his eating difficulties it was very hard to administer the proper medications. Eventually, the elderly lizard began losing vision in both of his eyes, requiring manual feeding by staff at the zoo.
For all of the staff at the Santa Barbara Zoo who worked with Lil’ B, euthanizing him was a tough decision to make. For the Curator of Birds and Ectotherms at the zoo, James Traverse, this was an especially difficult decision. Traverse worked specifically with Lil’ B for several years, getting him conditioned to being around people through a number of creative and intuitive training methods. This training allowed to him to be touched by people, establishing him as a great encounter animal at the zoo for guests to connect with.
Although it is difficult to obtain Monitor Lizards for exhibition, Traverse believes another Monitor on display would be excellent due to their size, intelligence, and personality. One possible future plan for the exhibit at the zoo is combining a Green Iguana and an Armadillo in the enclosure. The combination is designed to educate the public about doing research before buying a pet reptile, such as a Green Iguana, as well as demonstrating a range of biodiversity. Armadillos live and feed primarily on insects on the ground while Green Iguanas are almost strictly herbivorous and arboreal creatures. The two species thrive in nearly identical climates, contributing to this creative pairing.
Although both Green Iguanas and Armadillos are amazing species, Lil’ B the Bengal Monitor Lizard lived a comfortable, fulfilling, and long life at the Santa Barbara Zoo and will be missed, but never forgotten.