Living a Zoo Dream!

Glass lizard

So what does one do in one’s first week as CEO of the Lake Superior Zoo?

Learn—a lot.

While it’s an important and exciting part of the job to get to know more about the zoo’s animals (such as the glass lizard above), learning about the people is just as rewarding. Already I have learned a lot from the zoo’s amazing employees and volunteers, from members of the Board of Directors who support this great organization and from our visitors who come and connect with our amazing animals.

Specifically, in the past week I have met a few of our long-time docents (volunteer teachers at the zoo) who dedicate their time to educate the public (and the CEO), about the animals. Their knowledge and stories are enthralling. I could listen to them talk passionately for hours. And I couldn’t imagine the zoo without their engagement, focus and dedication.

My highlight of the week has been watching our snow leopard, Kiran, frolic and play in his winter wonderland. I try to make a point to walk through the zoo at least once a day. It’s like therapy for the heart and soul to see these animals up close and become familiar with their unique personalities and behaviors.

As the leopard roamed his habitat and played peek-a-boo with me from behind the rocks, my concern about the cold and wind faded away, replaced by a simple appreciation of his beauty and grandeur.

But I digress. There will be more about the snow leopard in the future. This week, I’d like to highlight one of the astounding but less-recognized animals at our zoo, our glass lizard, King Koopa. He often is mistaken for a snake, but he is actually a legless lizard. Native to Europe and Asia, the glass lizard’s name comes from its ability to easily break its tail to escape from predators.

When seen in their full size, glass lizards almost appear to be from mythical times—or perhaps out of a Harry Potter tale. This video helps us better understand this unique and amazing animal.

Though King Koopa isn’t our largest or rarest animal, he is a wonder. While sometimes visitors overlook these lesser-known animals, it’s important that we highlight and educate zoo patrons about these stellar creatures. Each plays an important role in our environment and has an astounding story to tell.

Please visit King Koopa next time you are at the Lake Superior Zoo. He’s located in our Primate Conservation Center.
Have a great week, and remember to enjoy the little things in life.

Corey Leet is CEO of the Lake Superior Zoo. You can contact him at or 218-730-4500, extension 203.

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