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Rare Guatemalan beaded lizards born at Zoo Atlanta
Friday, April 25, 2014

Hatchlings represent one of the world’s most endangered species
 
The latest hatchlings at Zoo Atlanta are no ordinary babies. Three newly-hatched Guatemalan beaded lizards represent one of the planet’s most endangered species, joining the world’s only zoological population of its kind. 
 
As of Friday, April 25, three of 12 viable eggs had hatched, with the remaining nine expected to follow suit in coming days. With the birth of its first Guatemalan beaded lizard in 2012, Zoo Atlanta became just the second institution ever to successfully reproduce this species. Zoo Atlanta now holds the world’s only legally-owned zoological collection of the lizards outside their native Guatemala. 
 
Found only in Guatemala’s Motagua Valley, the species is believed to number fewer than 200 individuals in the wild. Guatemalan beaded lizards have faced serious challenges because of habitat loss and illegal trade, as well as fear-based exterminations as a result of long-held popular myths that the elusive, venomous lizards had nefarious magical powers. Zoo Atlanta partners with the Foundation for the Endangered Species of Guatemala, a nonprofit organization based in Guatemala, on Project Heloderma, which works to purchase and protect beaded lizard habitat, combat black-market trade, and educate local people on the value of saving a national treasure.