ZooTampa hatches endangered Komodo dragons for first time, boosting numbers of the world’s largest lizard

After months of incubation, six baby reptiles break out of their shells

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2023) – For the first time ever, ZooTampa at Lowry Park has hatched endangered Komodo dragons, significantly increasing the numbers of the world’s largest lizard.

The six new dragons from mother Aanjay (age 13) and father Titus (age 12) started hatching Aug. 21, after a nine-month incubation. During this time, ZooTampa’s herpetology and veterinary teams monitored the eggs, which were about the size of a goose egg, by using candling imaging and genetic testing to ensure that the eggs were viable. They determined the sex of the dragons before they were hatched by obtaining a blood sample from the egg.

The clutch of six hatchlings is made up of 3 females and 3 males, each weighing in around 100 grams and sitting at 10 inches long. The new baby Komodo dragons will be behind the scenes adapting and growing before meeting the public later this fall.

“These first-time additions at the Zoo are a big win for conservation,” said Dan Costell, associate curator of Herpetology at ZooTampa. “It was a long process, and we are excited that these additions to a key endangered species are finally here.” The breeding was recommended through the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan program, a breeding program that helps manage the sustainability of animal populations.

“Being a part of the Species Survival Plan program, ZooTampa has a shared commitment to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied reptile population,” Costell said. “Komodo dragons are one of 99 species that we are working to save and protect at the Zoo as part of the SSP.”

 

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on Earth, reaching up to 10 feet long and 200 pounds. The powerful lizards can run up to 12 miles per hour and have a strong venomous bite. They’re found natively only in the islands of Komodo National Park in Indonesia, and its habitats range from tropical island forests and beaches. They are endangered due to climate change and human activities such as agricultural expansion, resulting in loss of habitat. There are an estimated 1,400 adult Komodo dragons left in the wild.

 

Click here for pictures and video.  (Includes rare hatching footage and sound bites)

About ZooTampa: ZooTampa at Lowry Park is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in conservation, education, recreation, and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is recognized as Florida’s leading and most attended zoological cultural attraction. ZooTampa and our David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care, were honored among the “Best Zoos” (#6) and “Best Zoo Exhibits” (#4) in USATODAY’s 2023 10Best Reader’s Choice Travel Awards. The Zoo is a twelve-time winner of the Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Award (2010-2023), ranking us among the top 10% of attractions worldwide. A winner of 2021 Best of Tampa and is a leader in the rehabilitation and care of Florida species. The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa and is open seven days a week (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours for select events. For more information, visit www.zootampa.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Trustees of the Lowry Park Zoological Society, Directors of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation, and the Employees and Volunteers of ZooTampa understand and appreciate the vital role of philanthropy to accomplish our work. That’s why we subscribe to the Donor Bill of Rights developed by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, National Society of Fund Raising Executives:

“Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes that they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

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As a non-profit organization, ZooTampa relies on your support, depends on the support of generous contributors, and achieves ambitious fundraising objectives by communicating with and understanding donors. We know that it is essential to protect the privacy of that information. ZooTampa, the Lowry Park Zoological Society, and the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation will neither sell nor trade a donor’s personal information to any other entity without the written permission of the donor.

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Commemorations

Outside Food & Drinks Policy

ZooTampa at Lowry Park offers a variety of delicious food for guests at several restaurants and concession stands throughout, but we understand that guests may need to bring outside food for special dietary needs. Acceptable and prohibited food items are listed below. For the convenience of our guests, there is a picnic area located outside the park near the main parking lot.

 Acceptable Items
  • Bottled water (max 20oz bottle, sealed) one per guest
  • Small snacks for young children
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For the safety of our animals, guests and employees, the following items are not permitted to be brought into ZooTampa:

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The following items are also prohibited to avoid blocking of walkways and/or trip hazards:

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Please leave any unnecessary articles secured within your vehicle to expedite your entry into the park.

We reserve the right to deny entry to anyone not observing Zoo Rules.

Pay For A Day Tickets

With a new Pay For A Day, Rest of Year Free ticket – for a limited time – you get unlimited admission through December 31, 2024 including access to our seasonal event series. Some blockout dates apply — see below for details. Not valid with any other discounts.

When does my Pay For A Day ticket expire?

Pay for a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased in October, November, or December of 2023, are valid from the day of purchase until 12/31/2024. Any Pay For a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased prior to October 1, 2023 expire on 12/31/2023.

What are the blockout dates?

11/24/23 – 11/26/23
12/26/23 – 12/31/23
3/9/24 – 3/17/24
11/24/24 – 11/26/24
12/26/24 – 12/31/24

Blockout dates apply to admission before 4:00 PM on the above dates.

Can I purchase a Pay For A Day ticket on a blockout date?

Yes! You can purchase a Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket for first-time use on a listed blockout date and have full access to the park on that day. Blockout dates apply to repeat visitation.

Can I use my Pay For A Day ticket on blockout dates? If you already have your Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket and wish to visit during a listed blockout date, please stop by the Zoo’s ticketing windows for alternate options:
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  2. For a limited time from the date of purchase, Pay For A Day tickets can be upgraded to a Zoo Membership (with no blockout dates).
I purchased a Pay For A Day ticket online. How do I get my actual ticket?

Bring a copy of your confirmation (or show the confirmation email on your mobile device) to expedite entry into the Zoo. At your convenience during your visit you can stop by the Tours & Guest Services kiosk located just inside the Zoo to print your physical pass. No need to stand in line at the ticket windows. Walk right in!
Still have questions? Email us or call (813) 935-8552 ext. 0.