Science

Rare Komodo Dragons Born In Indonesia Zoo

By Pierre Dumont , Mar 19, 2013 08:07 AM EDT
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Seven Komodo dragons, part of an endangered species, were born at a zoo in Indonesia.

The births were the result of an artificial breeding program at Surabaya Zoo in the country's East Java province. The program aims to propagate the creature, which is the world's largest lizard. Only between 4,000 and 5,000 Komodo dragons are believed to currently exist, and the creatures are considered especially at risk because they live in just a handful of islands in Indonesia.

The Komodo dragons born at Surabaya Zoo weight around five ounces each. Once grown, they can reach up to 10 feet in length and weigh 300 pounds. They can live for 30 years.

"As the dominant predators on the handful of islands they inhabit, they will eat almost anything, including carrion, deer, pigs, smaller dragons, and even large water buffalo and humans," National Geographic states. "When hunting, Komodo dragons rely on camouflage and patience, lying in wait for passing prey. When a victim ambles by, the dragon springs, using its powerful legs, sharp claws and serrated, shark-like teeth to eviscerate its prey."

Just last month a Komodo dragon attacked a tour guide at Komodo National Park in Indonesia. The tourist's right calf was bitten before he was saved by another guide. It marked the second attack to take place in the park that month. In 2011, a Komodo dragon attacked actress Sharon Stone's then-husband, San Francisco Chronicle Executive Editor Phil Bronstein, during a backstage tour at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Aside from the type of artificial breeding that takes place at Surabaya Zoo, there have been attempts at captive breeding, including programs in the United States and the Czech Republic. That type of method can prove difficult, however, especially with Komodo dragons.

According to Reptile Expert, lizards are "rather picky when it comes to choosing a mate — which means that even if a particular zoo or institution manages to get a true pair, there's no guarantee that they're going to get along well enough to mate."

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