Today, the Australian Reptile Park has unveiled a brand-new exhibit, featuring the first and only hatchling Komodo dragons in Australia. After the Australian Reptile Park became the first zoo in Australia to successfully breed and hatch Komodo dragons in April 2022, the Central Coast wildlife park is now the only place in the country where visitors can see hatchling Komodo dragons.
Komodo dragons are the largest living lizard species and considered modern-day dinosaurs. After overseeing the potentially dangerous mating process for both dragon and keeper, seven months of incubation and the hatching of the eggs, the tiny trio is now ready for visitors to see.
Head Reptile Keeper, Jake Meney, is thrilled to finally be able to share his excitement about the dragons, stating, “Working with these dragons for the last two months has been incredible. Even at this size, they’ve got all the intelligence, attitude and inquisitiveness of an adult dragon. I can’t wait for our visitors to come and get to know them as well!”
The now two-month-old dragons are under the watchful eye of the Australian Reptile Park’s Reptile Keepers, and all three lizards have passed their latest health checks.
“When they hatched, the dragons all weighed in between 112g-116g. Now, they’ve all gained around eight to 12 grams each, indicating that they are in perfect health. By the time they’re about a year old, they should weigh around one kilogram and measure almost one metre in length,” said Mr Meney.
The ongoing health and development of these hatchlings means positive signs for the breeding program and an important step for the endangered species. Presently, captive breeding is not needed for the wild population, however building captive populations are imperative, in case a sudden decline is seen in the wild.
Mr Meney continued, “Once the dragons have reached 12 months of age, we’ll commence training for them to walk in the main park area to meet visitors, just like their parents do.
“For now, visitors can see all three baby Komodo dragons within the Lost World of Reptiles exhibit at the Australian Reptile Park,” Mr Meney concluded.
The opening of the Baby Komodo Dragon Exhibit coincides with the Australian Reptile Park’s JURASSIC JUNE event series, which will see 8-foot-high animatronic dinosaurs roaming the Park every weekend in June. The special event series comes just in time for NSW residents to use their remaining Discover NSW vouchers, which are due to expire on 30 June 2022. Visitors to the Central Coast wildlife park can use the Discover NSW and Parents NSW vouchers to get the best deal for weekend family fun this June.
The Komodo dragon is a living dinosaur and the world’s largest lizard. Komodo dragons can grow up to 3-4 metres in length and weigh over 100kg. Found on the Indonesian island of Komodo, there is a population of about 3,000 to 5,000 Komodo dragons in the wild. The Komodo dragon is a monitor; however, their forked tongue gives them a dragon-like appearance. They are carnivorous predators but will eat just about anything.
The status of the Komodo dragon in the wild is Vulnerable, which is the status level before endangered, on the IUCN red list. Their numbers are declining because of human encroachment, poaching, natural disasters, and a shortage of egg laying females. Breeding programs, like that of the Australian Reptile Park, are of the utmost importance.