Knoxville Zoo has a new Komodo dragon, and what he may be lacking in size he makes up for in attitude. The feisty little male, who doesn’t hesitate to show his ferocity with a dramatic display of tiny, razor-sharp teeth, will make his public debut today in Wee Play Zoo as part of the Fourth of July festivities.
Christened “Drogo”, the six-month-old Komodo dragon was hatched at Memphis Zoo in mid-January. Although currently weighing in at about 8 ounces and measuring approximately 18 inches long, his zoo caretakers say he will definitely grow to match his big attitude. When fully grown, Drogo could very well tip the scales at 150 pounds and measure eight feet in length.
Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world, and are well-known for their ability to take down large prey such as deer and
pigs due to the virulent strains of bacteria in their saliva, which infects their prey when bitten. These strains of bacteria are more than likely the result of feeding regularly on carrion in their native habitats, and Komodo dragons who reside in zoos do not have this characteristic. Research has also suggested that they possess a very primitive venom delivery system.
Komodo dragons are vulnerable in their native range, with only an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 individuals remaining on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Gili Dasmi in the Indonesian archipelago in Southeast Asia.
Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville’s largest year-round attraction. Located off exit 392A from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one- hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865.637.5331 or visit www.knoxvillezoo.org