NEW YORK - Half a dozen Komodo dragons hatched at the Bronx Zoo in November, marking the first time that this reptile species successfully bred in the zoo's 122-history. The breeding was part of a years-long project by the Herpetology Department staff.
"Keepers have to carefully monitor the adult Komodos when they are paired for mating as courtship behaviors can sometimes become aggressive," the zoo said in a news release.
The pair of adult Komodos bred in March 2021. In April, the female laid a clutch of eggs, which were then placed in an incubator. The staff monitored the eggs for about seven months until they hatched in November.
"Komodo dragons are one of the planet's most fascinating species and these hatchlings represent a hopeful future for the species," Don Boyer, the zoo's curator of herpetology, said in a statement. "They will be wonderful ambassadors for their wild counterparts as they help us raise awareness about conservation needs."
The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is the world's largest living lizard species; an adult can grow to 150 pounds and 10 feet long. The reptile is native to the islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca, Padar, Gili Motang, and Nusa Kode in eastern Indonesia.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the species as endangered. Fewer than 2,500 Komodo dragons remain in the wild, according to some estimates.
The Wildlife Conservation Society's mission is to save "wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature," according to its website. In addition to the Bronx Zoo, its flagship property, WCS runs the Prospect Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Queens Zoo, and the Central Park Zoo.
Half a dozen Komodo dragons hatched at the Bronx Zoo in November 2021. (Wildlife Conservation Society)