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Two of the dragons are identified as boys, and four are girls. The other four dragons are still yet to be determined, says the San Antonio Zoo. It’s difficult to determine the gender of Komodo dragons because no major differences separate males from females except for a slight difference in the arrangement of scales, the Smithsonian Zoo says.
The hatchings occurred between Oct. 17 and Oct. 27, the San Antonio Zoo said.
“This monumental hatching is a testament to the zoo’s persistence and commitment to conservation,” said Tim Morrow, president and CEO of San Antonio Zoo, in a statement. “The hatchlings are thriving, and we are looking forward to watching them grow and help preserve the existence of Komodo dragons.”
The Komodo dragon wins the prize for being the largest living lizard in the world, beating over 3,000 other species. The average Komodo dragon is about 154 pounds, but the largest recorded one was 10.3 feet and 366 pounds, according to the Smithsonian Zoo.
These dragons are carnivores and scavengers, eating anything from rodents to water buffalo – and even their own species, the Smithsonian Zoo says. In fact, young Komodo dragons often roll in feces to prevent being eaten by larger Komodo dragons or dance in circles around the larger ones to appease them.
In 2021, Komodo dragons’ status was moved from vulnerable to endangered, meaning they are on the brink of extinction with less than 1,400 mature individuals left in the world. The species is at risk due to their limited habitat range that consists of six islands in southern Indonesia, with most of the population living on Komodo Island.
Why is this fearsome species endangered? Climate change.
The populations are at risk due to limitations of the habitat range, development that consumes habitat and the impending threat of habitat loss from climate change as sea levels continue to rise, according to the San Antonio Zoo.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says rising temperatures and sea levels are to blame, and the world body expects the dragons’ suitable habitat space to be reduced by at least 30% in the next 45 years. As for some of the creatures living on the unprotected nearby island of Flores, human activity has resulted in significant habitat loss, as well as hunting for the same food resources.
San Antonio Zoo’s Species Survival Program paired two Komodo dragons, matching a female dragon, Kristika, from the San Antonio Zoo with a male drago, Boga, at the Houston Zoo.