You’d be forgiven for thinking there was magic in the air today, as a real-life dragon roamed the grounds at Adelaide Zoo!
Making his way along a special path set out by keepers, the zoo welcomed 10-year-old male Komodo Dragon, Naga, as he walked himself into his brand-new exhibit.
The 2.75m long, 43kg lizard has quickly clawed his way into our hearts since arriving from Taronga Zoo in May.
After making the 1300km journey across the country, Naga has been in quarantine while zoo staff put the finishing touches on his new home near Wisteria Café.
Acting Curator of Adelaide Zoo, Heather Guy, said Naga’s new exhibit featured indoor heating, a pool, heat pad, sand and tropical plants to emulate his species’ natural environment.
“We’re pleased to have Naga here at Adelaide Zoo. He has settled in well and keepers are enjoying getting to know him,” she said.
“We look forward to seeing him explore and discover his new exhibit and for visitors to come along and meet him these School Holidays.
“It is particularly significant for us to have a male Komodo at the zoo as we would like to breed with our five-year-old female Komodo Dragon, Cecilia, in the near future.
“Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassified Komodo Dragons’ conservation status and they are now listed as endangered.
“We hope Naga’s arrival and potential hatchlings will shine a light on this incredible species and help our visitors learn more about their plight in the wild.”
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species estimates there are less than 1,400 Komodo Dragons left across the forests and beaches of Indonesian islands.
It is predicted that in the next five decades 70% of current habitat could be lost due to rising global temperatures and subsequent sea levels.
Zoos SA supports the Komodo Survival Program, an Indonesian-based not-for-profit organisation, working to ensure the survival of dragons in the wild.
Since 2018, Zoos SA’s support has helped on-ground conservation efforts including research, the purchase of camera traps, nest monitoring, and community awareness programs for people residing in Komodo National Park.
The biggest and heaviest lizard in the world, full-grown adult Komodo Dragons can reach over three metres long and weigh more than 140 kilograms.
Despite their large size, they can run up to 20kms per hour and can consume up to 80 per cent of their body weight in a single meal.
Female Komodo Dragons lay up to 30 eggs, which they will guard for several months. Hatchlings are greenish with yellow and black bands but become solid grey to reddish-brown as they age.
For more information about Komodo Dragons and Zoos SA’s conservation work, please visit adelaidezoo.com.au.