When we mention dragons here at The Dallas World Aquarium, we are generally referring to the seadragons for which we are well known. However, frequent visitors to our facility will notice some changes along the pathway of the Orinoco Secrets of the River exhibit. Just below the Andean Heights, as the path from the Giant River otters leads to the Golden lion tamarins, a new structure is emerging that will soon be home to a colorful reptile known as the Caiman lizard, Dracaena guianensis. Also known as the Dracaena lizard, or female dragon, they are native to South America and can be found in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Brazil.
Natural predators of the Caiman lizard include birds and small mammals.
Along with many other lizards in the Teiidae Family, the Caiman lizard is protected under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). They have been hunted for their meat and skin as well as for the pet trade.
Cooperative breeding help reduce collection pressure on these animals and also bring awareness to the need for conservation of these colorful lizards and the fragile aquatic habitats in which they live. We look forward to the completion of the exhibit and to learning more about these colorful swimming dragons.
(Images provided by Jim Watson)