Goodbye, Guapo

Photos by John Adamski

Photo by Tina Fess

We’re all saddened by the recent loss of the Zoo’s Lizard King, “Guapo.” He was the Mexican beaded lizard located in the Zoo’s Main Building since May of 1974. There was nothing that you couldn’t like about him. Zoo visitors may have walked by his enclosure and said “Eww!” but Zoo staff knew behind his big, beady scales was a real gentle, very agreeable lizard.

Guapo on left

Guapo, on left. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Guapo was often used in the Zoo’s earlier reptile shows. He was a very large beaded lizard – bigger than most. Visiting staff from other zoos were always amazed at his size. He outlived two of his exhibit mates by almost 20 years. Guapo was the oldest living Mexican beaded lizard at 41 years according to ISIS (International Species Information System). He was even featured in a Reptiles magazine when I wrote in and sent a picture to refute a claim of a bigger lizard. We were all very proud and protective of our buddy!

I still remember the time when I was disciplined by the Assistant Director for letting him free roam the Zoo’s Main Building while I cleaned his exhibit. She had a good point – he was venomous and potentially dangerous. Even though we all knew he wouldn’t hurt a flea. I was always more careful on letting him go on “walkabout” after that.

We’re all going to miss him. He really was one of a kind. I feel honored to have been one of a few to care for him over the years.

– John Adamski, Assistant Curator