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Dragons: Fact not Fiction at Riverbanks Zoo

For Immediate Release: May 2, 2012

Zoo Expands Animal Collection with First Pair of Juvenile Komodo Dragons

[Columbia, SC] — Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will, for the first time in Zoo history, exhibit a pair of juvenile Komodo dragons beginning this Friday, May 4.

Komodo dragons—also known as Komodo monitors—are the world’s largest living lizards. Male dragons have been known to reach lengths of 10 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds. The largest Komodo on record weighed 366 pounds.

"We are excited to give our visitors an opportunity to watch as these young dragons grow into powerful predators,” said Scott Pfaff, curator of herpetology at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Komodos in captivity grow at a faster-pace, typically reaching adulthood in about 5 to 6 years, while dragons in the wild reach maturity in about 20 years.”

Riverbanks’ new dragons were hatched last August at the Los Angeles Zoo. Native of the Indonesian Islands, Komodos are considered endangered with only about 4,000 to 5,000 left in the wild. To help protect their population and aid in conservation, Indonesia’s Komodo National Park was established in 1980.

Komodo dragons, as well as other species of monitor lizards, are highly alert, complex and diverse in their behaviors and are considered very intelligent. Captive dragons commonly demonstrate exploratory and play-like behavior and can become quite docile, allowing frequent close contact with their care givers.

Guests visiting the Zoo will find the young Komodos—as well as Riverbanks’ five Galapagos tortoise babies born last October—on display beginning this Friday in the Desert Gallery of the Aquarium-Reptile Complex. The dragons will reside there until they are large enough to live in a spacious outdoor exhibit.