Brevard Zoo says goodbye to Ollie, a black-throated monitor



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Brevard Zoo

Last week, Brevard Zoo said goodbye to Ollie, an 11-year-old male black-throated monitor. A month and a half ago, he was having difficulties walking with his back legs and was brought to the Zoo’s Harris Animal Care Center for testing. After blood work, X-rays and an ultrasound came back inconclusive, the Zoo brought Ollie to the Animal Emergency and Critical Care Center of Brevard for an MRI and CT scan to help diagnose his condition. These tests also came back inconclusive.       

Brevard Zoo zoo keepers began physical therapy with Ollie to try and help with his muscle loss and muscle memory. This was paired with hyperbaric treatments (breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room) and cold laser therapy from the Animal Emergency and Critical Care Center of Brevard to try to help heal Ollie from within. After numerous meetings with animal department and veterinary staff, it was decided to perform surgery to try and relieve Ollie’s symptoms. While the surgery went well, Ollie later passed away the evening of June 5. Pathology studies will be performed in order to determine the cause of illness and death.              

Ollie was born in the fall of 2003 and was donated to the Zoo in May 2005. He resided in the Petting Zone in the Paws On area of the Zoo where he cohabitated with alpaca, pygmy goats and an African spurred tortoise. He enjoyed climbing on occasion, bathing in the pool often and soaking up the sun. He was a favorite among staff and visitors alike.

Ollie the black-throated monitor was an ambassador for his species often coming out for guest appearances and special events. His docile nature was surprising to those who were familiar with this variety of lizard, as he did not follow the typical behavior of the species.

“We can find comfort in the fact that our staff truly cares and worked tirelessly to provide for Ollie during his time of need,” said Michelle Smurl, director of animal programs and conservation. “It is hard to lose any animal at the Zoo. We will miss Ollie. There will never be another monitor like him.”

Black-throated monitors (Varanus albigularis ionidesi) are the largest of the four subspecies of Varanus, reaching up to 7 feet long and weighing up to 60 lbs. Their lifespan is 15 to 20 years. Native to Tarzania, they will eat rodents, bird and other lizards. They have large powerful jaws and use their tail as a powerful whip.