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Large lizard captured on Loop 101 in Phoenix reunited with owner

The monitor lizard was originally spotted wandering along the freeway just before 7 a.m.
Loop 101 reptile
Posted at 6:59 AM, Jul 10, 2024

PHOENIX — The Department of Public Safety had an unusual assignment on Loop 101 near 7th Street Wednesday morning: a monitor lizard was wandering around on the shoulder of the freeway.

Arizona Department of Transportation cameras showed a large lizard walking up and down the shoulder of the freeway.

Crews respond to large reptile on freeway in Phoenix

Before additional crews could arrive and capture it, the large lizard ended up crawling into a drain on the side of the freeway.

After roughly an hour in the drain, crews were able to get the animal out and capture it.

Watch the exciting capture in the video player below:

Reptile experts capture monitor lizard along Loop 101 in Phoenix

It's unknown where the lizard came from or how it got on the freeway, but the Phoenix Herpetological Society is now in possession of the lizard.

They’ve identified the lizard as a Nile monitor lizard which is not native to Arizona. This species actually comes from Africa or Asia and they are carnivores. They are legal to own but not recommended as pets due to their feisty demeanor.

The Phoenix Herpetological Society says they received calls from people regarding the lizard — and they have already located its owner.

Seth Vancura said during monsoon storms two weeks ago, his pet Nile monitor lizard got out of his outdoor enclosure.

An occasional Nextdoor post of a sighting ended up unsuccessful, leaving the reptile lover heartbroken.

He saw the traffic update Wednesday morning and told his employer he had a family emergency.

He raced to the Phoenix Herpetological Society, where staff verified pictures of his beloved lizard, Archibald — or Archie, for short.

Seth has loved reptiles since he was a young boy. He said he was able to get Archie when he traded in his albino python for the Nile monitor lizard years ago.

ABC15 was there when Seth and Archie were reunited. Vancura, who is also planning his wedding that is just weeks out, says he’ll better secure the lizard enclosure in his backyard which is nearly two miles from the area where he was found Wednesday morning.

lizard reunited

When asked if Archie was ever in consideration to be a ringbearer for his upcoming wedding, the groom said he’s not the top decision-maker for the wedding — perhaps that will change after today.

Watch ABC15 live: