Recently, Taronga Zoo welcomed two 16 month old Komodo Dragons from Los Angeles Zoo. The juveniles joined Komodo Dragon Tuka at Reptile World. Tuka has been a Zoo visitor favourite for over 20 years now and the two juveniles can be seen by visitors in the exhibit next door to him.
The intention is that this pair will be on display together, however in the wild fights over food are common. While this won’t be a problem while they are small, when they reach their adult weight of up to 90 kilos and potentially three meters in length, these brawls can be lethal.
Keepers have begun using red point lasers to signal meal time. This training method has been used in a number of zoos and is based on the Komodo’s ability to distinguish different colours and targets.
The aim is to train the dragons to associate the red light with dinner and move to separate areas of the exhibit to devour their meals. Eating separately will reduce the likelihood of squabbles over food.
The Komodo Dragon is the largest and strongest lizard species in the world. However, this species is considered to be an endangered with an estimated population of only 3,000.