ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced the hatching of six endangered Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizards, after nine months of incubation.
The zoo said the hatching of the three female and three male babies marks an important milestone in the conservation of the species, which is native to Indonesia. Komodo dragons are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated 1,383 adults left in the wild.
Dan Costell, associate curator of herpetology at ZooTampa, said the successful breeding was the result of years of work by the zoo’s herpetology team. “ZooTampa has long supported Komodo dragon conservation via the Species Survival Program, and we are glad to continue our contributions with this hatching,” he said.
The zoo also participates in the Komodo Survival Program, a non-governmental organization that works with local communities and authorities to protect the dragons and their habitat.
The world’s largest lizards
Komodo dragons are the largest living species of lizard, reaching up to 10 feet long and 200 pounds when fully grown. They have a powerful bite with serrated teeth and venom that can cause severe bleeding and shock in their prey. They can also run up to 12 miles per hour and swim across short distances.
Komodo dragons are carnivorous and feed on a variety of animals, including deer, pigs, water buffalo, and even smaller dragons. They have a keen sense of smell and can detect carrion from up to six miles away. They are also known to dig up human graves and attack people, although such incidents are rare.
Behind the scenes
The six baby dragons are currently behind the scenes at the zoo, adapting and growing before meeting the public later this fall. The zoo said they are about 10 inches long and 100 grams in weight, and will be fed a diet of mice, crickets, and worms.
The zoo also shared a video of the hatchlings on its Facebook page, where they received many congratulations and compliments from the viewers. One commenter wrote, “They are so cute! Congratulations ZooTampa!” Another said, “Wow! Amazing! Thank you for your conservation efforts!”
The zoo said it hopes the baby dragons will inspire people to learn more about the species and support its conservation. “These first-time additions at the zoo are a big win for conservation,” the zoo said.