Komodo Dragon Exhibit Opens at Bronx Zoo For Memorial Day

May 24, 2014 09:02 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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A new exhibit has opened up at the Bronx Zoo just in time for Memorial Day.

Visitors will get the chance to see a Komodo dragon exhibit, called "Amazing Monitors," for the first time ever in the Bronx, according to a Wildlife Conservation Society press release.

"By introducing visitors to Komodo dragons and the challenges they are facing in the wild, we hope people will take on an appreciation for this uniquely adapted species," said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo, according to the release. "Perhaps we will even inspire the career of the next great herpetologist or conservation scientist to work in Indonesia to help save the remaining wild dragons." 

Fully grown, adult male Komodo dragons can reach nine feet from nose to tail, and weigh up to 360 pounds, according to the release.

There are fewer than 2,500 Komodo dragons in the wild, with possibly as few as 350 breeding females.

"Komodo dragons are one of nature's most amazing creatures," said Breheny. "They are the top predator in the environment in which they live." 

Their diet consists of large and small mammals, like buffalo, deer, reptiles, birds, eggs, and smaller Komodo dragons, according to the release.

On a good day, Komodo dragons can consume up to 80 percent of their body weight in one feeding.

Komodo dragons are native to the eastern Indonesian islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca, Padar, Gili Motang, and Nusa Kode.

"The Komodo's bite can inflict a serious wound on their prey which often results in a quick death," according to the release. "In addition, their saliva contains a toxic mix of bacteria and venom fractions. If the prey is bitten and escapes, it is likely to die within a few days from the bite."

The lizards are able to track their dying prey by using their highly developed sense of smell.

The exibit can be found at the Bronx Zoo's Zoo Center building. The grand opening marks the first time the Bronx Zoo has shown off Komodo dragons since the 1950s.

The exhibit features three Komodo dragons, two females, and one male. Visitors will be able to rotate through the indoor exhibit throughout the day, according to the release. The dragons are adolescents, yet they are still over five feet in length.

"Providing the right environmental conditions, habitat, and enrichment is vital to the health and wellbeing of all animals in our care," said Don Boyer, Bronx Zoo Herpetology Curator. "The Komodo dragon exhibit is a good example and demonstrates the attention to detail that goes into the design of all Bronx Zoo exhibits."

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