Visitors to New York City’s Bronx Zoo will now get to meet the real life dragons who have moved in.
The new arrivals are a trio of komodo dragons who have taken up residence in the park’s zoo centre enclosure. They are the first komodo dragons on exhibit at the zoo since the 1950s. One day they will reach 9ft (2.7m) are sure to excite visitors. Even currently at 5ft (1.5m) they are amazing animals to watch.
The komodo dragons are the centre of attention at the new ‘amazing monitors’ enclosure. They live alongside mertens water monitors, yellow spiny tailed monitors and blue tree monitors. The zoo has created habitats which mirror the natural homes of these animals.
The komodo dragons will act as ambassadors to raise awareness of this vulnerable species. Current estimates suggest that only 2,500 komodo dragons are left in the wild.
Director of the Bronx Zoo, Jim Breheny, was optimistic about what effect the dragons would have saying, ‘By introducing visitors to Komodo dragons and the challenges they are facing in the wild, we hope people will take on an appreciation for this uniquely adapted species. Perhaps we will even inspire the career of the next great herpetologist or conservation scientist to work in Indonesia to help save the remaining wild dragons.’
These amazing predators are believed to have a toxic bite. They have many strains of bacteria and a small amount of venom in their saliva. This means that when they bite a large animal it will die many hours later. Komodo dragons can then smell up to 6 miles away.
The zoo’s three komodo dragons will rotate through the main indoor habitat so visitors will only see one at a time. In the wild komodo dragons will only come together for mating so the zoo looked to replicate this.
The herpetological curator for Bronx Zoo, Don Boyer said ‘Providing the right environmental conditions, habitat, and enrichment is vital to the health and wellbeing of all animals in our care. The Komodo dragon exhibit is a good example and demonstrates the attention to detail that goes into the design of all Bronx Zoo exhibits.’
Don Boyer is also the manager of the Species survival plan for komodo dragons. This is the breeding program which manages genetic diversity in the zoological population for this species.