In the wild there are reportedly only around 5,000 Komodo dragons left, found in eastern Indonesia. But Prague Zoo has enjoyed continued success in breeding the endangered lizard in captivity. Over the last few days, the zoo saw the successful hatching of 20 new specimens, the offspring of a female known as Aranka. What’s more, viewers were able to watch the entire hatching process online. Radio Prague’s Jan Velinger spoke to the zoo’s spokeswoman Jana Ptačinská-Jirátová, who told me more about the successful hatchings:
“We were very happy to be able to offer the public the opportunity to watch the hatching of the Komodo dragon babies online. We installed cameras in the incubator so that people could watch the babies Komodo dragons come into the world.”
Did you get many reactions?
“We did. It was fascinating how many people watched and we got a lot of feedback on Facebook, in emails and in the media. They were amazed: it’s not everyday that you can see something like this, this kind of moment in life. So people were fascinated.”
How long a process is it as they hatch?
“We ourselves were very curious about this: it turns out for a single lizard the period was two days. All 20 hatched within the same week.”
What was the appearance or what is the appearance of the baby dragons and how would you describe their behaviour at this stage?
“They were very lively when they were born! They are 40 - 45 centimetres long and weigh around 100 or 140 grams. They are not so big but what fascinated people was how they could have fit in a 10 centimetre sized egg.”
How they fit in there, I understand... But of course one day they will be large animals, won’t they?
So how are they being cared for now?
“Right now they are in a special terrarium and our keepers are taking care of them and later on it will be possible to see them in the pavilion of big turtles.”
So at this point they don’t have contact with the mother?
“No, definitely not. In Nature, it could happen that their mother could injure them, so that is why they are not together.”
My understanding is that it is not the first time this female has had babies Komodo dragons in captivity, that that is something which is very rare...
“Yes, it’s very exceptional and it happened only once in the world that a captive female had three litters. And our Aranka – that’s the name of the female just had her third litter and laid another six eggs since. So that will be the fourth batch. It will be the first time that any zoo has four litters from one female. So I hope that we will be able to successfully continue in breeding of specimens and raise the population of Komodo dragons in captivity.”