DC Mom Surprises Son With Iguana During Clear the Shelters

Her son is "fascinated by reptiles," and asked for the iguana as a present for his 16th birthday

What to Know

  • Parrie Henderson-O'Keefe, of Mount Pleasant, DC, adopted Charizard, a 2-year-old iguana, during Clear the Shelters while her son was at camp
  • Charizard was one of 95 animals adopted in the DC area that were not cats or dogs.
  • Other animals that were adopted include fire belly toads, ferrets, chickens, parakeets, a tortoise, a bearded dragon and a pigeon.

Who said Clear the Shelters was only for cats and dogs? One woman used Saturday's adoption event as an opportunity to give her son the ultimate surprise -- an iguana.

Parrie Henderson-O'Keefe, of Mount Pleasant, D.C., adopted Charizard, a 2-year-old iguana, for her 15-year-old son Peirman, who wants to study amphibians and reptiles as an herpetologist when he grows up.

"He's going to be thrilled," Henderson-O'Keefe said. "Ecstatic. That's all we've been talking about since he saw her."

After learning about Clear the Shelters in an email from the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League, Henderson-O'Keefe decided go to the shelter in advance Thursday with Peirman and her daughter, Eldie, 12, to look around.

That's when Peirman met Charizard, an iguana named after a Pokemon character.

"He really responded to the iguana," Henderson-O'Keefe said.

Peirman scratched Charizard's neck to remove a layer of skin she was shedding, and Henderson-O'Keefe said when her son picked up Charizard, the iguana crawled onto his shoulder.

After leaving the shelter Thursday, her son told her he wanted the iguana for his 16th birthday. He then left for camp in Ohio, but Henderson-O'Keefe and Eldie decided to return to the shelter Saturday to adopt Charizard.

She said she'd probably call Peirman Saturday afternoon to tell him the news.

"He's probably going to make us FaceTime the reptile," she said.

Charizard was one of 95 animals adopted in the D.C. area during Clear the Shelters that were not dogs or cats.

Buddy and Sophie, two 10-year-old chinchillas that had been hanging out at the shelter together since June 2, were adopted together, and a young tortoise named Rusty also found a forever home.

Fire-bellied toads, ferrets, guinea pigs, mice, chickens, parakeets, a tortoise, a bearded dragon and a pigeon also joined families Saturday.

Charizard was in the shelter for three months before being adopted, Henderson-O'Keefe said. She said the shelter didn't know why the owners gave her up.

Before adopting Charizard, Henderson-O'Keefe said the family already had a dog, a cat, a tortoise, a gecko and four fish. She said adopting a reptile is appealing because they have a "different level of care" compared to dogs. And Peirman is drawn to them, she said.

"He find reptiles just fascinating," she said.

Henderson-O'Keefe said her tortoise is "the best pet in the world. She comes when she's called; she sleeps half the year."

And Charizard has proven to be a good pet so far, too, she said. Henderson-O'Keefe said by phone that she's already played outside with Charizard and the iguana seemed to enjoy being around people. She said Charizard was calm and friendly, and like most iguanas, adapted well to people well.

"An iguana is probably as close to a dog as you can get in the reptile world," she said.

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