After 50 years, the giant lizard known as the Komodo dragon has returned to the Bronx Zoo. When most people think of dragons, they envision enormous creatures that fly and spout fire from the pit of their bellies. Much like that ruled by Daenerys Targaryen, a character on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. Three Komodo dragons will be displayed when the exhibit opens on Saturday. Two females and one male dragons, still pretty small at around five feet long and only weighing around 30 pounds each, have plenty of time to grow. The world’s largest Komodo is the male. It can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 300 pounds.
The last time the Bronx Zoo housed any of the giant lizards was in 1959. The zoo tried to get some Komodo dragons for an exhibit back in the 1980’s but there were none available. The three new arrivals were born nearly four years ago in the Los Angeles Zoo. The Bronx Zoo, which is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society hope that the exhibit will teach children about conservation efforts for the giant lizards.
Komodo dragons make their home on Indonesia’s Lesser Sundra Islands. The islands have been their home for millions of years, but it was only as recently as 100 years ago that humans discovered them, according to National Geographic. In their natural habitat, the dragons will eat almost anything. Some of their prey includes deer, pigs, large water buffalo and occasionally even humans. If anything is lucky enough to survive the bite of a Komodo dragon, it will usually last for a short time because the dragon’s saliva can be toxic and is ridden with harmful bacteria, causing blood poisoning in most cases. At the zoo their diet mainly consists of mice and rats. Although these lizards look slow and placid, they in fact are very aggressive and quite speedy for their size. Features of the awe inspiring Komodo dragon is its serrated teeth and sharp claw s used for searing the flesh of its prey. They have a long, flat, head and rounded snout. Komodo dragons are on the endangered species list mainly due to natural disasters and human encroachment, along with poaching which prompted international conservation groups to help keep them from extinction.
Last fall the exhibit “Amazing Monitors” was supposed to open, displaying these magnificent creatures but was set back because construction took longer than expected. Along with the three Komodo dragons, a blue tree monitor and a yellow-spiny monitor will also be on display. The indoor exhibit was carefully constructed to resemble the dragons’ natural habitat. Zoo officials do eventually plan on bringing another male Komodo to the zoo for breeding purposes.
Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo explained that most people do not think that reptiles or any lizards are as intelligent or as fast as the Komodo dragons are. He went on to say that the crocodilian like creatures are fun to watch. Mr. Breheny said that this is the first time in his life that he ever saw a Komodo dragon in New York.
By Melissa Monk