Authorities are investigating the possible theft of a skink from the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the college’s police.
Zookeepers first noticed the 25-year-old female Solomon Islands skink, a lizard species, was missing Sunday morning, said Jade Salamone, the conservation education curator. It is valued at $1000, measures approximately 18 to 20 inches long and is a light green and brown color.
The missing skink was reported soon after zoo staff realized the animal might have been stolen.
The zookeepers check the security of the enclosures multiple times a day, Salamone said. The unnamed skink has lived at the zoo for 20 years.
It’s a possibility, but unlikely, that the skink escaped on her own, Salamone said. The exotic animal could possibly have been stolen to be sold.
Last year,three people were arrested for their alleged involvement in the theft of 11 Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo animals. Gopher tortoises, a monkey and a different skink were among those stolen.
“We’re hoping this is a completely isolated incident, but [theft is] definitely a concern,” Salamone said.
The police are investigating any possible reason for the animal’s disappearance, Salamone said. She encourages people to keep an eye out for the skink.
“When our animals went missing last year,” Salamone said, “it was citizens that brought them back to us.”