The Lyndhurst-based troupe promises plenty of sword fighting and chivalry while they search for dragons as part of their show in one of the zoo’s fields. They will perform at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. and will give away free tickets to Medieval Times during each show. All for regular admission to the zoo. This is the second event of many the zoo will have to mark the unveiling of their new giant endangered lizard.
As Turtle Back Zoo Director Dr. Jeremy Goodman said, the events this July and over the next several months are the culmination of many years of planning on the part of the zoo. “We actually had the Komodo dragon here a couple years now [before the exhibit was opened],” he said. “We’d been growing him because we got him as a baby, when he was about one-foot long. But we couldn’t debut the mighty Komodo dragon at that size. We were waiting for an opportune time.”
The dragon is a bit mightier now; it measures about five-feet long and weighs over 45-pounds. It’s expected to at least double in length and get much heavier over the next two years. Komodo dragons have been known to weigh as much as 300-pounds.
Goodman said the zoo actually planned and built their reptile house six years ago with the expectation that the Komodo dragon would be its centerpiece exhibit.
It takes a long time, of course, to secure such a rare creature. Goodman said the zoo was on a waiting list for years before the baby Komodo was bred and delivered to them.
“These are living giants of the reptile world,” Goodman said. “We wanted to come at it from different angles.” The zoo has planned several more events, including a dinosaur themed one, which will highlight the Komodo dragons’ relationship to the giant reptiles that ruled the Earth 65 million years ago.
Previously, the zoo invited Chinese Dragon Dancers to perform. 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon, and the luckiest year in the Chinese Zodiac.
Komodo dragons are indigenous to the Lesser Sundra Islands of Indonesia. Their existence was still unknown before 100 years ago. They are the heaviest lizards on Earth and are the dominant predators on the islands where they reside.
They are known to be extremely dangerous, as they will eat almost anything, including humans. Their usual diet consists of the carcasses of dead animals, deer, wild pigs and water buffalo.
Komodo dragons subdue prey with powerful legs that enable them to pounce on unsuspecting mammals, which they are able to tear apart with sharp claws and serrated teeth. In the event an animal escapes the first attack of the Komodo dragon, the dragon will follow and wait for its victim to succumb to the dragon’s lethal saliva. Any creature bitten by a Komodo dragon usually dies within 24 hours.
There is a population estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Komodo dragons across the isles of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca and Flores, according to National Geographic.