Female Komodo dragon arrives at London Zoo
Saturday 28 May 2005
London Zoo is delighted to announce the long awaited arrival of our new female Komodo dragon, Sungaï. Sungaï joins us from France’s Thoiry Zoo and is a very important arrival, as she will play a key role in London Zoo’s breeding programme for this highly endangered species.
Sungaï hatched on 1 May 1995 in Yogyakarta Zoo in Indonesia and, at the age of ten, is in her prime. She hasn't yet bred, so her genes are important to the captive gene pool and we look forward to the patter of tiny claws in the future!
You will be able to see Sungaï's first outing in her purpose built, state of the art enclosure, which has been home to our male Komodo, Raja, since it was opened by Sir David Attenborough in July last year. Raja, our very own bachelor boy, has been on the lookout for a mate since the tragic death of his partner, Nina, in August 2004 and we hope that Sungaï puts a bit of French frisson into his life! Raja and Sungaï will be kept apart while she settles in, and will hopefully be introduced at the end of the year to coincide with their breeding season which starts in December.
"Sungaï’s arrival is fantastic news for everyone at London Zoo and we are delighted that we will be able to contribute to the important breeding programme for this fantastic species. After the tragic loss of Nina last year we have been working hard to find a suitable female as a breeding partner for Raja," commented Richard Gibson, London Zoo's Curator of Herpetology. "Sungaï has settled in very well and is a calm animal who is used to people, we are sure she is going to prove a huge success with our visitors and we look forward to introducing her and Raja later in the year."
Sungaï is a large animal, measuring over two metres and weighing in at a hefty 26kg. She, like all Komodo dragons, will continue to grow throughout her life and could reach 2.5meters and 30kg.
Komodo dragon facts
- The komodo is the largest living lizard – can be up to 3m and weigh 100kg
- They are the only lizard to hunt and kill prey larger than itself and larger than it can swallow whole
- It is the top predator in its environment (other than man) which is unusual for a reptile
- Komodo dragons prey on snakes and lizards (including smaller Komodo dragons) domestic animals such as chickens, ducks, cats and dogs, pigs, goats as well as deer and water buffalo. Has been known to attack and eat people
- Komodo dragon saliva contains over 50 species of bacteria and is virulently toxic. Dragons kill large prey by rushing from ambush along game trails, biting at legs and tendons, maiming the animal and then trailing the injured animal until septicaemia sets in and kills it
- Baby dragons live in trees for first two to four years to avoid being eaten by larger dragons
- Eggs take nine months to hatch
- Skin is scaly like other reptiles but each scale has a small point of bone, called an osteoderm, making it very tough, like armour plating
- Threatened through habitat loss from competition with man for food, woodland clearance and fires as well as occasional poaching and persecution
- Males demonstrate ritual combat during breeding season by standing on their hind legs and wrestling.