Joe Mendelson (above)
Brad Lock (below)
Joe Mendelson, PhD, and Brad Lock, DVM, serve as Curator and Assistant Curator of the Zoo Atlanta Herpetology Department. Their team of animal care professionals is responsible for the daily stewardship of more than 500 individual reptiles and amphibians, while also serving as passionate contributors to critical conservation projects benefiting some of Earth’s most endangered species.
Dr. Lock is a coordinator, consultant and primary health assessment facilitator on Project Heloderma, a partnership between Zoo Atlanta and Zootropic for the conservation of Guatemalan beaded lizards. Found only in the Motagua Valley in Guatemala, these elusive reptiles rank among the planet’s rarest wildlife, with fewer than 200 now believed to remain in the wild. Unfortunately, most of the Guatemalan beaded lizards’ already tiny habitat has been converted for farming, charcoal production and mining.
Project Heloderma works to purchase and protect lizard habitat, combat illegal trade, and educate local villagers on the value of one of their national treasures. The initiative also helps local communities succeed by providing clothing, school supplies and school computers in hopes of eliminating the necessity of killing or selling Guatemalan beaded lizards, which have historically commanded attractively high prices for poachers on the black market.
Visit Guatemalan beaded lizards in the Zoo Atlanta World of Reptiles, or learn more about Project Heloderma and other Zoo conservation programs on zooatlanta.org.