Southern California breaking news and trends

Man attacked by Gila monster sentenced for having a Gila monster


Photo by Joachim S. Müller via Flickr Creative Commons

Derek Nathaneal Castaneda was rendered unconscious and taken to the hospital in January after being attacked by the venomous, 18-inch Gila monster he kept illegally as a pet in his San Pedro home.

On Tuesday, the 34-year-old man was sentenced to three years of probation, a series of animal neglect classes, a year of AA meetings and fined $1,000 for possessing the potentially lethal reptile and a pair of rattlesnakes.

According to the City Attorney's Office, Castaneda -- on probation at the time of the attack for an earlier DUI case -- was convicted of unlawful possession of a native California reptile species, and the unlawful keeping of a wild reptile without a permit.

The Gila monster was taken to the Orange County Zoo. The snakes, illegal to possess without a permit, were reportedly euthanized.


LA Zoo 'LAIR' exhibit opens: Reptile house welcomed with open claws

lizard LA ZOO LAIR exhibit

Photo by Joe Utsler / CrazyUncleJoe via Flickr Creative Commons

March 8, 2012: The Los Angeles Zoo's newest exhibit, "the LAIR," opens to the public.

Los Angeles Zoo's newest Betty White/Slash-approved exhibit, the LAIR (Living Amphibian, Invertebrates, and Reptiles), is now taking visitors into its multi-habitat house devoted to reptile and amphibian conservation. Approximately 60 species of rare, unique, endangered, neon, venomous, bearded, scaled and flippered friends will inhabit the house.