The San Diego Zoo has maintained a large breeding group of the emperor scorpion in our Spineless Marvels exhibit since early 2003. In addition, we periodically display the flat rock scorpion and the desert hairy scorpion in the Zoo’s Elephant Odyssey.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Hidden Jungle has been home to emperor scorpions for many years as well. This is the species frequently used in television programs and movies as they are quite large and scary to look at, though fairly docile and reluctant to sting, so they are easy for actors to work with. However, their large claws can deliver a painful pinch! We recommend keeping your hands off any scorpion species, just to be safe.
Many scorpion species are threatened by habitat loss and over-collection in the wild. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, develops multi-national conservation agreements in an effort to limit the potential for extinction of living species that are part of international trade. Special permits are now required to bring emperor scorpions Pandinus imperator into the United States and other participating countries; this helps control the numbers that are collected in the wild.