Lizard to be saved from unwelcome attention

BANGKOK, Thailand, AP

Thailand’s forestry chief has ordered a monitor lizard be freed from captivity in a family’s house to save it from being petted to death, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Hundreds of people from far and near have visited the house outside Bangkok to see the lizard, which they believe is a reincarnation of a 13-year-old boy who will bring them good luck, the Bangkok Post said.

Many visitors rub talcum powder on its skin and pat it in the belief that winning lottery numbers will appear on the reptile’s skin, the Bangkok Post said.

It quoted Forestry Department chief Plodprasop Suraswadi as saying that the lizard, which has been fed milk and yogurt, would die if it was kept in captivity.

He ordered his staff to rescue the amphibious lizard from its owners, the parents of the dead boy, and release it some place with water, the report said.

The lizard was first found lying under the photograph of Charoen Taengniam during his funeral 2 1/2 weeks ago.

It followed the boy’s parents to their home, the Post quoted the mother, Chamlong Taengniam, as saying.

She named the lizard Yui, her son’s nickname, and allowed it to sleep in the same bed as her, the Post said.

She said she gave the lizard milk and yogurt, her son’s favorite foods. A former chief vet of Bangkok’s Dusit Zoo who visited the house last week said the lizard had lost its reflexive responses, the Post said.

Monitor lizards, which have gray skin marked by yellowish scales, live near water and are good swimmers and tree climbers. They are not aggressive.