A Lancelin Island Skink is setting a reptile record as he reaches his 21st birthday at Perth Zoo. 

Affectionately known as ‘Lance’ among his keepers, this rare reptile has now surpassed the species’ average lifespan by about 13 years. 

Senior Keeper, Emily Greenhalgh, said: “For a small reptile species, getting to 21 years old is an impressive feat. 

“Despite his age, Lance still appears to be healthy and strong, and enjoys a varied diet of termites, crickets, cockroaches and silkworms.

“While he does live behind the scenes here at the Zoo, he is a firm favourite among reptile keepers and is given the best quality care to help him live out his golden years in style."

Endemic to its namesake island off the coast of WA, the Lancelin Island Skink was once considered critically endangered. 

But from 1995 to the early 2000s, Perth Zoo worked on a program for the vulnerable reptile with the now Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to safeguard the species from extinction.

Lance hatched at Perth Zoo in 2001 as part of the program and remained on site as a valued ambassador animal, helping to educate the public about the species in the wild. 

More than 150 skinks were bred at Perth Zoo and released into new, safe habitat near Jurien Bay.

The breeding program was rested in 2005 when wild populations had been appropriately bolstered.

Saving wildlife in action! Happy birthday, Lance.