RATCHABURI — More than 200 water lizards taken from a park in the center of Bangkok arrived Wednesday to live out their rest of their days in captivity west of Bangkok.
The ongoing operation to reduce the population of the monitor lizards in Lumpini Park has beenwas suspended for now while the city considers whether to continue, and the director of the facility to which they were moved said he was told to prepare to accept twice as many animals – the estimated number living in the park.
“Today veterinarians sprayed disinfectant in the enclosure and checked the animals’ health. There was no problem,” said Winan Wirana, director of the Khaozon Wildlife Breeding Center in Ratchaburi province, where the formerly free lizards of Lumpini Park will be held in captivity.
A total of 203 water lizards have been moved to the station so far, Winan said, adding that he thought they were adjusting well to their new homes.
Winan said he was told to prepare space for 400 big lizards, but he told reporters Wednesday that he agreed with those who said city hall overreacted. He said the city should not relocate more lizards because they benefit the park’s ecological diversity.
The city said it would consult with biologists on whether to resume the removal.
The water lizards have been a common sight in Lumpini Park for years, but this week Bangkok city workers started clearing them out. Officials said their population has become too high to the point of damaging the park’s ecology and causing a nuisance to park-goers.
The story has dominated headlines not only for the animals’ status as familiar icons of the park but also for abundant use of their name – hia – which is closest to the English exclamation “fuck” or “fuckers” in Thai.
Some park regulars have posted on social media complaining the park’s charms won’t be the same without the hia crawling and frolicking in the ponds.