Ladies and gentlemen – your attention please! There’s a dragon in the house!
Naga, an impressive two and a half metre long komodo dragon has taken up residency at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo.
“Naga” is the Indonesian word for dragon.
Zoo CEO Ian Jenkins collected the 27-kilo young adult male from Brisbane last Wednesday and returned to the Childers zoo where Naga was placed in a pre-built and specially designed enclosure.
According to Ian, the new attraction is settling in well.
At just seven years of age Naga has a long life ahead of him with male Komodo Dragons recorded as living into their 60’s and can grow to more than three metres in length with weights exceeding 100 kilos.
Quite agile, they can run at speeds of around 20 kilometres an hour.
Acquiring the komodo dragon is in line with Snakes Downunder’s philosophy of constantly expanding its attractions.
“The Komodo is a good acquisition for the zoo,” said Ian.
“We have the climate here and Naga complements the other attractions we have.”
Komodo dragons a mighty and feisty animal
It’s only a little over 100 years ago that Western scientists first recorded seeing a komodo dragon.
The animal is native to five south-eastern Indonesian islands including Komodo.
Recent research indicates that the animal was a part of the Australian landscape about 50,000 years ago.
Noted swimmers – they have been seen many kilometres out to sea. Gifted with an uncanny sense of smell and remarkable eyesight, the komodo dragon has no natural predators except another Komodo.
Ian is confident Naga will respond well to handling by zoo staff and says he has witnessed the animals being almost dog-like in their ability to be trained.
“You can see the intelligence in this animal’s eyes. He’s checking me out just as much as I am getting used to him,” he said.
“The komodo is a predatory animal and has the ability to bring down much larger animals. It’s claimed the animal can eat meat equivalent to 80% of its own body weight in a single sitting.”
Ian said, as with all the zoo animals, there will be no risks taken with Naga and staff will continue to work with him in preparation for when Snakes Downunder is again ready to reopen.
A longer-term plan involves Naga living somewhat of a playboy lifestyle.
“It’s planned to use him to mate with females at other zoos. I guess he will have his share of travel and the company of some lovely lady komodo dragons,” laughed Ian.
In the meantime, following the zoo’s Coronavirus-driven closure, Ian will need to maintain a regular routine with the zoo animals.
“We have to keep things as normal as possible and that includes our interaction with the animals,” he said.
“I handle the snakes regularly during enclosure cleaning so I don’t see any additional handling will be necessary.”
He said he would continue the processes involved with Macca, the half-tonne saltwater crocodile.
“I will continue the usual routine used when we have a public audience which involves feeding and encouraging Macca from his pond,” Ian said.
Snakes Downunder and its wonderful collection of animals will be eagerly awaiting the return to normality and the opportunity to again enthral and entertain visitors.
Former US President George Bush (Senior) was gifted a Komodo Dragon by the Indonesian government during his presidency.
Also named “Naga”, the male Komodo was donated to the Cincinnati Zoo by President Bush where it was a major attraction for more than 20 years.
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