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This is the magical moment when a tiny emerald tree monitor lizard first broke through its shell at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Its eyes are not yet open and its tail is tightly coiled but this incredible little creature is about to breathe air for the first time.
This striking image was taken by Bristol Zoo’s senior reptile keeper, Adam Davis, as he carried out his regular checks on a clutch of eggs incubating in the Zoo’s Reptile House.
Adam said: “It can take up to a day for the tree monitor lizards to break out of their shells, but it is always a special moment when they first emerge.”
Bristol Zoo has been breeding emerald tree monitor lizards for the past 13 years.
Adam said: “We have always bred these lizards very successfully and have bred 33 in total over the years.”
The emerald tree monitor lizards are native to New Guinea and grow to around 1m long.
They spend the majority of their time in the branches of trees even when they are sleeping – holding on with their claws and tail wrapped around a branch. They are very strong climbers, with long limbs, toes and claws, and a prehensile tail working like a fifth limb.
Bristol Zoo is part of an important breeding programme, along with other European zoos, to safeguard the future of this remarkable species.
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