World-renowned herpetologist finds paradise in Malaysia.
by Natalie Heng
FOR SOMEONE whose earliest memory is trying to catch a lizard by the family swimming pool at aged two, it’s no wonder Dr Lee Grismer grew up to be one of the world’s most respected and intrepid herpetologists. He’s as tough as nails, with an insatiable appetite for discovery, and – based on numerous photos on-line – has a penchant for Hawaiian holiday shorts.
A professor of biology from La Sierra University in California, Grismer has spent a quarter century doing fieldwork on the Baja peninsula, studying and describing just about every kind of snake, frog and lizard imaginable over there. However, the year 1996 opened up an entirely new world for him. He remembers picking up the phone, a former student furthering his studies in distant Malaysia was on the other end of the line. The student told Grismer: “You gotta get over here, this place is crazy.”
So he booked his flight, and his trip to Malaysia turned out to be life-changing. “It was like starting over. I had all those exciting feelings, like I was a boy catching lizards again. Except this time, the lizards could fly, and so could the snakes, and even the frogs.”…