The Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, IL. reports that Nicolas Cage's Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator) is doing quite well in his new home. Now named Grug, after Cage's voiceover on "The Croods," the lizard was very well socialized by the actor and has a very easygoing demeanor, according to Rob Carmichael, the curator at the Lake forest facility. "He’s kind of a ham,” Carmichael told the Lake County News Sun. "He's got quite a personality."
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Nicolas Cage's Asian water monitor. Screengrab courtesy Chicago Sun Times
The paper reports that Carmichael spoke with Cage briefly about Grug, formerly named Michael, and learned that Cage raised the lizard from a baby and conditioned the lizard to be handled by different people at an early age. Carmichael said that Cage's socializing of the lizard helped it to fit in quickly at the Wildlife Discovery Center, so much so that Grug got the leading role in the center's summer outreach program. Grug will tour various schools and neighborhood parks in Chicago with several other handpicked animals to help educate the areas youth.
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To prepare for the tour, Grug is currently getting bulked up as he came in a bit thin for his age, and he needs a pedicure, according to Carmichael. Grug also gets daily walks at nearby Elawa Farm by Addy Robinson, the center's wildlife conservation educator. Grug is currently being kept in an indoor enclosure but will soon move into a 30-foot long by 1-foot high by 10-foot wide outdoor enclosure, complete with a swimming pool and a large basking spot.
Check out the video of Grug below.