In celebration of this week’s national Endangered Species Day, the Chula Vista Nature Center will unveil an exhibit of the rare Coast Horned Lizard. The endangered lizard, which makes its debut at noon, Saturday, May 17, will be on display in a stand-alone terrarium just inside the center’s entrance.
The Coast Horned Lizard, native to California, looks prehistoric with horns on the back of the head and pointed scales along the sides of the body. When threatened, the lizard will shoot a small stream of blood from its eyes, a distraction that allows the lizard time for escape. Habitat destruction and the loss of its favorite food source--a native ant species, contributed to the lizard’s endangered status.
Endangered Species Day (Friday, May 16) was established by the U.S. Senate as a national celebration of America’s commitment to protecting wildlife on the brink of extinction. Across the country, more than 1,800 species are now listed as threatened. Success stories in species recovery include the return of the bald eagle, gray wolf, humpback whale and the grizzly bear.
The Chula Vista Nature Center has its own species recovery story to tell—a successful captive breeding program of the endangered Light-footed Clapper Rail. Decades ago, large numbers of Light-footed Clapper Rails thrived in southern California’s coastal salt
marshes. As these critical habitats disappeared, the rail population dwindled to dangerous lows. Since 2001, when the Nature Center’s captive breeding program began, 170 rails have been reared and released into the region’s wetlands-- from Santa Barbara to Mission Bay. Seven new chicks were hatched last month.
Special events at the Nature Center on May 17 include:
- Noon - New horned lizard exhibit unveiled
- 1 p.m.- Presentation on the endangered Light-footed Clapper Rail
- Nature-themed arts and crafts
On Saturday, the center will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last shuttle picks up passengers in the parking lot at 4 p.m.