News and Public Media for North Central Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

ZooTampa welcomes its first endangered Komodo dragon hatchlings

(Photo courtesy of ZooTampa)
(Photo courtesy of ZooTampa)

Tampa, Florida – ZooTampa announced that six endangered Komodo Dragons were hatched at the zoo at the end of August.

After nine months of incubation, six dragons hatched -- three female and three male -- from mother Aanjay, 13, and father Titus, 12. The hatchings began Aug. 21 after being monitored by the veterinary teams for nine months.

The hatchlings will begin eating on a regular basis and will be trained. They will be on display for the public in the zoo at the Komodo building in the indoor habitat. Dan Costell, associate curator of Herpetology at ZooTampa, said he is looking to have the dragons on display at the end of October.

“This hatching is very important for the species survival plan with the AZA [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] institutions and the wild population,” said Costell.

Costell said Komodo dragons are endangered mainly because of climate change and habitat loss. These new hatchlings are a hopeful sign.

“It's a project I’ve been working on for 20 years, and I’m very happy I finally got it accomplished,” said Costell. “Komodo dragons are one of 99 species that we are working to save and protect at the zoo as part of the SSP.”

“These hatchlings hopefully will be moved into the SSP (species survival) program where they can disperse their genetics into our population in AZA institutions,” said Costell. The AZA “is a breeding program that helps manage the sustainability of animal populations.”

The Komodo dragons come from three islands of Indonesia and only about 1,400 are still in the wild. They can weigh 200 pounds and grow to 10 feet long, making the Komodo dragons the biggest lizards on Earth.

Kaylann is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing