PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (WRBL) – Come take a ride on the wild side! Every Wednesday on News 3 This Morning, News 3’s Blake Eason takes you on a ride through Wild Animal Safari – a Pine Mountain theme park.

On the next stop of our safari adventure, we meet Smeagol the Uromastyx Lizard. The lizard can be found inside the Reptile House within the Walkabout Adventure Zoo.

The Walkabout Adventure Zoo is a portion of Wild Animal Safari that allows for guest to visit with and meet animals in a zoo-like setting.

Smeagol happens to be one of General Manager Katie Harrison’s absolute favorites inside Wild Animal Safari.

“He’s also very uniqe and very chill which I love. He has a spikey tail, because there’s also called spiny-tailed lizards,” said Harrison.

Harrison adds the spines on their tail actually help them defend for themselves while in the wild.

“If you remember the hedgehog, they use their spine to defend themselves, that’s their defense mechanism, his spikey tail is his defense mechanism,” said Harrison.

These lizards also change colors, but Harrison says don’t get them confused with chameleons.

“They do something different. The way that they regulate their heat, is by changing colors, so they get lighter and darker. So right now, Smeagol is this bright orange, which just means that he is warm, toasty, he’s doing great. Now if he starts to cool off, he’ll be that darker color. If it makes sense, whenever you wear a dark shirt, you get hotter right? Because you are absorbing more heat. That’s the way his skin works,” said Harrison.

Smeagol is an animal ambassador at Wild Animal Safari meaning he’s apart of their off-site program. This program invites certain animals from Wild Animal Safari to schools and events in the community.

Wild Animal Safari is celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2021 and as part of that celebration the park is teaming up with News 3 for “Wild Animal Wednesdays – A Ride on the Wild Side.” The park is located at 1300 Oak Grove Road in Pine Mountain, Georgia, and the 300-acre park is home to 75 animal species. For more information on Wild Animal Safari, including how to plan your visit and purchase tickets, go to here.