First in fifty years: Moscow Zoo has now blue-tailed monitors

January 27
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For the first time in 50 years, the Moscow Zoo has now rare blue-tailed monitors. Two males and two females have been brought from the Indonesian island of Biak (Pacific Ocean). This reptile is on the IUCN Red List, with their number steadily decreasing.

'Last time Moscow Zoo had blue-tailed monitors in its collection was the 1970s. However, specialists then failed to get offspring from these unique reptiles. Now we want to provide them with the most comfortable conditions for life and reproduction. The objective of herpetologists (zoologists that study reptiles) is not easy to reach, as this is an understudied species. So our Zoo will research their behaviour and reproduction. We expect to make two couples and get offspring from rare blue-tailed monitors to become the first in the history of our Zoo,' said Svetlana Akulova, Director General of the Moscow Zoo.

She added that herpetologists would report the results of their research in scientific papers to share their expertise with colleagues from Russian and foreign zoos.

They like heat and moisture 

After a long flight from Indonesia to Moscow, the blue-tailed monitors were on a month-long quarantine, supervised by zoologists 24/7. The reptiles have settled in a new place and got used to the zookeepers. Visitors will see the lizards in May.

The monitors enjoy conditions close to natural. The temperature in terrariums is maintained above +28°C during the day and +22°C at night. Also, these lizards need high humidity. Each individual has a separate terrarium with a reservoir. The new Zoo inhabitants are still secretive and timid; they gradually get used to the presence of people and watch with interest what is going on around.

In the wild, blue-tailed monitors live only on the northernmost tip of Cape York, on the Cape York Peninsula in Australia, and on the islands of New Guinea. They are quick both on the ground and on the trees. Also, monitors like to swim or lie in reservoirs, and pools heated by the sun.

Researchers first mentioned this monitor species in the late 19th century. To date, we do not know the exact number of these unique reptiles. According to zoologists, there are 35,000-70,000 blue-tailed monitor individuals in the wild. The animal population has been declining due to the deforestation, global environmental changes and poaching.

Blue-tailed monitors look striking. With adults reaching about 140 cm, their moving tail is almost twice as long as their body. It is mostly blue. Monitor's throat and abdomen have the typical marble white-yellow colour. Blue-tailed monitors have strong paws with long claws they use to cling deftly to a variety of surfaces. Monitors use their claws to hunt, too. This lizard usually feeds on small rodents, birds, bird eggs and various insects.

The Moscow Zoo regularly replenishes its collection, which boasts over 1,000 species now. Moreover, the Zoo takes part in the international rare species conservation programmes on an ongoing basis. An aardvark and three couples of gentoo penguins arrived in 2017.  In 2018, it received two Amur tigers, an Amur leopard, a secretary bird, crested curassows and a common trumpeter.

The arrival of two pandas from China was last year’s key event for the Zoo. Ru Yi and Ding Ding arrived to the Moscow Zoo within the international giant panda preservation, protection and research programme. They will live in the Zoo for 15 years. Giant Panda is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Vulnerable. They live in some provinces of China, in particular in Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, and in Tibet.

The Zoo's collection boasts another treasure, a rare bird from tropical Islands — Bali starling. According to ornithologists, there are no more than several dozen Bali starlings in the wild. In 2019, the arrival of golden lion-headed tamarins, binturong, maned wolf and bush dog were long-awaited events for the Moscow Zoo.

Source: mos.ru

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