One of the San Diego Zoo’s first Gila monsters was a male named Butch. He belonged to a local school’s biology department but would “vacation” at the Zoo each summer in the 1940s.
In 1963, the San Diego Zoo hatched reticulate Gila monsters, a first for any zoo in the world. We earned the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award in 1964 from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for propagation of the species.
Today, several Gila monsters can be viewed in the Zoo’s popular Reptile House.
Much of the scrubland of the Gila monster's habitat has been cleared for agriculture, canals, roads and highways, and other human activities. Domestic cats and dogs often kill the lizards, and some Gila monsters are illegally collected for the pet trade. In 1952, the Gila monster became the first venomous animal in North America to be given legal protection.