New Outdoor Komodo Dragon Exhibit Debuts
September 13, 2002
Sharon Wright / 202-673-0209
The media are invited to view the Komodo dragons and the Zoo’s new outdoor exhibit on Tuesday, Sept. 17 between 1-3 p.m. Keeper Rob Lewis and other Komodo dragon experts will be on hand for interviews and to answer questions. The dragon will only be in the outdoor yard if the mid-day temperature reaches above 70 degrees. In case of inclement weather, the event will be canceled.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo Opens New Komodo Dragon Outdoor Enclosure
Komodo dragons are known for being the world’s largest basking lizard. The Komodo dragons at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park now have a new 620 square foot open-air, outdoor enclosure. The exhibit opens Sept. 17.
This new enclosure allows the dragons the opportunity to bask in natural unfiltered sunlight during warm weather months when temperatures are above 70 degrees. Although the original 714 square foot exhibit built in the 1980s allows sunlight to filter through the overhead sky-lights, the new outdoor exhibit allows the giant lizards to roam around and benefit from direct sunlight.
A door at the end of one of the two indoor enclosures provides access to the new outdoor exhibit area. The connecting door will allow the dragons to return to the indoor exhibit where there is ample shade and water available, and where their underground burrows are located.
The Zoo’s adult Komodo dragon siblings--female Kraken and male Precious--are kept in separate enclosures and will be released into the open-air exhibit on a rotating basis. There they will be able to roam the spacious yard and bask in the sun atop the pygmy bamboo-covered mound. This species of foliage was chosen because of its growth pattern and will eventually provide complete ground cover. Tall wild grasses in the outdoor exhibit will also provide shade and variety to the landscape. For better visitor accommodation, a shade trellis and paved walkway will be added this fall.
The record size for Komodo dragons is 10 feet long and more than 365 pounds. The huge brown-gray lizards are native to only three remote Indonesian islands: Flores, Komodo and Rinca. They inhabit tropical forests, grasslands and seasonally dry riverbeds. Still considered an endangered, vulnerable species, the population of Komodo dragons in Indonesia has remained stable and the lizards have become a lucrative attraction for tourists in that country.
The National Zoo was the first zoo outside Indonesia to hatch Komodo dragon eggs. The current two adult dragons are from the first clutch of 17 eggs hatched at the Zoo in 1992. Sabat, the mother of these two, has produced 55 dragons from two different mates, which have been sent to about 30 zoos around the world. The National Zoo’s participation in this breeding program has been of benefit in the study of this unique species and in helping to protect its natural habitat.
The new Komodo dragon enclosure was made possible through the successful 2001 year-end “Komodos in the Sun” fund-raising campaign held by the Friends of the National Zoo.
Zoo parking lots fill early; visitors should take Metro’s Red Line to the Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan or Cleveland Park stops. For additional information about the National Zoo, look online at www.nationalzoo.si.edu or on the FONZ Web site www.fonz.org.