Monitor lizard caught in tree by Florida elementary school

Biloxi Sun-HeraldSeptember 18, 2009 

ST. MARTIN ‐ An assistant kindergarten teacher looked up Thursday and saw a 6-foot monitor lizard in a tree over the kindergarten playground at St. Martin North Elementary School.

Dr. Don Palermo, with Bienville Animal Clinic in Ocean Springs, provided a tranquilizer and treated the animal after it was caught. He said crocodile monitor lizards have a nasty mouth. Their bite is dangerous and in some cases, deadly, he said.

Principal Christopher Williams said they cleared the playground and, with the help of deputies and firefighters, worked for four hours to capture the lizard, which is a cousin to the more famous Komodo Dragon.

"It fought to the last limb, as far as holding on," Williams said Thursday afternoon. "It's a strong animal."

Even after the tranquilizer was delivered, the lizard continued to hang on with its long claws. So firefighters from West Jackson County and Fort Bayou VFD sprayed it with a hose and caught it with a tarp.

"He hit the swing set on the way down," said school receptionist Tammy Ware. "He was pretty far up there."

Williams said the kindergartners were allowed to see it from a safe distance once it was captured.

"That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some," Williams said. "They called it a dragon and a dinosaur. It was interesting to see how their little minds made sense of this."

Read the story, and check out the picture, at

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