Tuesday, Jan. 25th, 2011: A 5-ft black-throated monitor lizard was found wandering around a residential neighbourhood in Riverside, California. People from Massachusetts Avenue were shocked to find a huge alligator-like creature sharing the sidewalk with them that afternoon.
The Riverside County Department of animal services received a call in the late afternoon about this wandering lizard. Later that day, the ‘Godzilla-like’ lizard was all over news, including a prominent placement as one of Yahoo’s top stories of the day.
Spokesman John Welsh said: "People were stunned by the size of this thing.” It took a while to catch the lizard and put the hissing monster with a sharp, lashing tail back in the truck. Back at the shelter house, the lizard was well behaved, which made animal services believe that perhaps the lizard was someone’s pet and might have managed to escape its cage somehow.
The black-throated monitor lizard is a carnivorous animal and native to the African grasslands and some parts of Asia. Though it is legal to own a lizard as a pet in California, its size was way too big to even think of it as a pet. However, later the next day, the lizard's owner Tom Casarez Jr. came forward and was reunited with his beloved pet, known as Elmer.
Surprisingly, Elmer had been missing since Sunday, when he must have escaped while his tank was being cleaned. Officers from animal services visited Tom’s house to make sure the lizard was safe, happy and being cared for properly. All's well that ends well.