ZSL London Zoo’s ‘Dragon’s ten’
Friday 17 October 2008
What do you give a Komodo dragon who’s celebrating a landmark 10th birthday? Well you give him a manicure of course!
Raja, ZSL London Zoo’s adult dragon, is getting his nails cut in preparation for his birthday and National Reptile Day which are both on Saturday.
Being a Komodo dragon, and one of the world's heaviest living lizards, you might think that Raja could be a bit of a ‘old dragon’ when it comes to being pampered – but this just isn’t the case!
The birthday boy has been target trained since he was three years old which means he is an old hand when it comes to being groomed.
During target training Raja is encouraged to focus on a white ball on the end of a stick, keepers then use a clicker and give Raja food each time he touches the target so he learns to associate this with a reward.
This enables Raja’s keepers to work with him safely and means that essential grooming and veterinary procedures can be carried out without causing him unnecessary stress and resorting to general anaesthetic.
The dragon is a popular animal with visitors, who love to watch his dramatic eating habits. With his long, yellow, deeply-forked tongue and stealthy approach Raja certainly makes a meal out of his dinner!