LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock Zoo along with its conservation partners successfully released dozens of lizards back into the wild last month.

The release of 43 yearling eastern collared lizards was part of a conservation reintroduction program. According to officials, the May release was the first of its kind in the state’s history.

The lizards were reintroduced into their natural habitat at three different glade sites in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains, according to zoo officials.

Over the past year, the partners have collaborated and supported the captive breeding program located at the zoo.

According to officials, the Collared Lizard Conservation team anticipates reintroducing several more populations in the state over the next few years which will include State Parks, AGFC- owned and private lands.

The partnership to preserve and restore the lizard’s population included:

  • Little Rock Zoo
  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
  • University of Arkansas
  • The Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
  • University of Central Arkansas

The collared lizard is a species of concern in Arkansas, according to the zoo. Habitat loss and degradation are primary threats to the lizard.

Officials say the collared lizard is one of the most important predators of the glade community and will help restore balance to this important biome as restoration programs continue.