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April 3, 2001

Three More Illegal Lizards Turned in Today

Honolulu - Three more illegal leopard gecko lizards were turned in this morning to the Honolulu Zoo, adding to the six that were turned in on Saturday. It is the third surrender of an illegal animal in 10 days, including a three-foot boa constrictor that was turned to Department of Agriculture officials the previous weekend.

In this morning's incident, an unidentified local male turned in the three lizards at about 6:30 to zoo personnel who were reporting to work. He said that the lizards were a wedding gift he received three years ago and that he was not aware that they were illegal until he saw news coverage last night.

All types of lizards and snakes, and some types of turtles and tortoises are illegal to transport to Hawaii.

Under the State's Amnesty Program, persons who voluntarily turn in illegal animals are granted immunity from prosecution. Animals may be turned in to the Honolulu Zoo, Hawaii Humane Society or any office of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture on any island. If caught, persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail.

The leopard geckos are currently being held at the department's Plant Quarantine Station but will later be returned to the Honolulu Zoo for safekeeping until arrangements are made to ship them to the mainland.

Another photo opportunity of the lizards is scheduled between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. this afternoon at the Plant Quarantine Station, located at 701 Ilalo Street. Due to road construction in the area, take Cooke Street makai toward Kakaako Park and enter the gate after Ilalo Street.

Leopard geckos, Eublepharis macularius, are fairly known in the pet trade on the mainland, but illegal to possess in Hawaii. It gets is common name from its brown, black and white spotted appearance. They are native to Iran, India and Afghanistan and Pakistan and are known to be aggressive eaters whose diet consists of a variety of insects, especially crickets, meal worms, and even baby mice. There have been no reports of leopard geckos in the wild in Hawaii.

Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department's PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).