Texas horned lizard hatchling release marks milestone to save state reptile

Texas horned lizard hatchling release marks milestone to save state reptile

On Sept. 16, the Zoo, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. (TPWD) along with Dallas Zoo and Caldwell Zoo released 204 captive-raised hatchlings into the wild (100 of which hatched at the Fort Worth Zoo).

Last week, the Zoo also celebrated a major conservation milestone: the successful hatching of its 1,000th Texas horned lizard! In 2011, the Fort Worth Zoo developed and perfected the breeding and husbandry protocols required to successfully breed and care for Texas horned lizards in managed collections. These practices have since been implemented and modeled at several zoos around the state. Each year, a coalition made up of Texas zoos and wildlife scientists gather to release hatchlings back into the wild.

This August at Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area, after years of zoo-raised hatchling releases, TPWD biologists and graduate students discovered a breakthrough milestone. They found 18 hatchlings believed to be offspring of zoo-raised hatchlings released in 2019. To their knowledge, this marks the first time that zoo-reared horned lizards have survived long enough to successfully reproduce in the wild.

We look forward to sharing updates from the field as biologists and conservationists from Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Christian University continue to track these lizards over the next several weeks.

Click here to learn more about the Zoo's Texas horned lizard conservation efforts

Click here to view the Texas horned lizard hatchling release press release