It's a Christmas miracle!
In November, six Komodo dragons hatched at the Bronx Zoo for the first time in its 122-year history. Why is this a miracle? Mating between these reptiles can sometimes become aggressive so it has taken years of work by the zoo's herpetology department to make it successfully happen.
There are also fewer than 2,500 Komodo dragons remaining in the wild, with possibly as few as 350 breeding females, the Wildlife Conservation Society says.
While they're smaller now, Komodo dragons are the world’s largest living lizard species, usually weighing more than 150 pounds and measuring up to 10 feet in length. They are native to the eastern Indonesian islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca, Padar, Gili Motang and Nusa Kode and like to eat large and small mammals including deer and buffalo, birds, eggs, and carrion.
Komodos are one animal you don't want to mess with—they are efficient predators, with sharp, serrated teeth like knives. They can track their dying prey up to six miles by scent by flicking their tongues to pick up smells. They can even consume up to 80 percent of their body weight in one feeding...and often feed on smaller Komodos.
"This is an important achievement for zoo staff and a significant milestone for the Bronx Zoo," said Don Boyer, the curator of herpetology at the Bronx Zoo. "Komodo dragons are one of the planet’s most fascinating species and these hatchlings represent a hopeful future for the species. They will be wonderful ambassadors for their wild counterparts as they help us raise awareness about conservation needs."
The Bronx Zoo opened the Komodo dragon exhibit in 2014, which was the first time they were housed in the zoo since the 1950s. The hatching of these new Komodos was part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding and management program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain genetic diversity and demographic stability in zoo populations.
The new hatchlings are on exhibit in the Bronx Zoo’s World of Reptiles.