World-recognised conservationist and leading landmark Chester Zoo recently celebrated two new arrivals.
A pair of Komodo dragon babies was born at the zoo as part of a special breeding programme. The Komodo dragon is well-known as the largest lizard living on our planet today, and the new additions are another step in the zoo’s efforts to bolster the species’ dwindling numbers and prevent its extinction.
The new babies arrived to dad Satali and mum Mezcal following a carefully maintained incubation period of six months. Weighing approximately 74g each, the tiny hatchlings measure only 40cm in length at present, but once fully grown will weigh around 90kg and be over three metres long.
The births are a major event for Chester as this is the first time that the zoo has successfully managed to breed hatchlings from mating dragons. Back in 2007, the zoo was represented among a dedicated team of experts who discovered that the female of the Komodo dragon species can fertilise her eggs without even mating through a process called parthenogenesis.
Matt Cook, Lead Keeper of Reptiles at Chester Zoo, commented that the mated pair of dragons appeared to hit it off immediately:
“A month later we found a clutch of eggs that had been laid and we carefully placed them in a special incubator where they have been monitored closely for several months. Given the current plight of dragons, we couldn’t take any chances.”
The two new hatchlings will now join a crucial global conservation breeding programme to build up a healthy population and protect the future of the dragons.