Old Boy

Although known to be cranky, lace monitor lizard Old Boy was a treasured member of the Zoo’s reptile collection.
  • 1930s
  • 1950s

When the Zoo received a male lace monitor lizard in the late 1930s, it was a very unusual and welcome addition to an already notable reptile collection. Lace monitor lizards can reach 6 to 10 feet in length—including an approximately 4-foot-long tail they use with whip-like action as a defense.

By the late 1950s, “Old Boy,” as he was called, was well known by guests and staff alike. Over the years, Old Boy developed a reputation for being a “crusty character,” and time didn’t seem to have any softening effect at all. Curator of reptiles Charles Shaw wrote in a ZOONOOZ article that although Old Boy had been at the Zoo for decades, “...his disposition has not improved with age...he remains quite willing to unleash a painful blow with his tail anytime anyone wishes to become too familiar.”

Yet the staff found ways to carefully handle the curmudgeon in order to care for him. And their patience and expertise paid off—at the time, Old Boy was believed to hold the longevity record for lace monitor lizards in zoos.

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