Zoo curator John Lebert says animals often end up at the center when owners move and can't bring their pet along. Some are referrals from the humane society. Others have grown too large for their enclosures, and their owners don't know how to manage them anymore. This was the case with a black throat monitor lizard that came from a college student more than two years ago. "What's amazing is with proper care and the right enclosure, that lizard has grown at least ten times in size since he came to us," Lebert says. Some animals can go to a new home once they recuperate, including Stevie, who was recently adopted by a family. (Potential owners are educated about proper care and diet, required humidity and lighting, and about the responsibility and time commitment involved.)
Creswell says owners often don't consider its lifespan when investing in a pet. Rocky and Apollo are twenty-two-year-old North African Sulcata tortoises--the third-largest species of tortoise in the world--who've had several owners through the years and found a home at the zoo. "They were the size of silver dollars when they were babies, and now they're ninety pounds each," he says. "They'll get even bigger and could live to be 100."