Gladys Porter Zoo mourns the loss of Komodo Dragon
BROWNSVILLE, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — The Gladys Porter Zoo staff mourns the loss of one of its most impressive and cherished creatures. Jahat, a male Komodo dragon, passed away in his behind-the-scenes quarters during the night of Thursday, April 17. Over the past year, he had been showing signs of advanced age; his movements had become slow and arthritic. Zoo keepers and veterinary staff had been closely monitoring his condition. Preliminary necropsy results reveal that he succumbed to heart failure. Although wild Komodo dragons can live to be 30 years of age, reptiles grow and mature at varying rates. Jahat showed signs of sexual maturity nearly a decade ago, and was considered past his prime at the time of his death. He was 15 years-old.
Jahat arrived at the Gladys Porter Zoo on March 1, 2007 from the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas, although he was owned by Zoo Miami. His transfer was a Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation. The Komodo dragon SSP program manages Komodo dragons in captivity in order to maintain a genetically diverse and self-sustaining population. His transfer coincided with the opening of the Zoo’s “Realm of the Dragon” exhibit.
Komodo dragons are native to a few Indonesian islands of the Lesser Sunda Chain, including Komodo, Rintja and the western coast of Flores. They are the largest monitor in the world, reaching lengths of about 10 feet; adult males can weigh over 220 pounds. In the wild, it is estimated that less than 5,000 remain. Their status is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Habitat loss and poaching are the main threats to their survival. In an effort to protect the species, the Indonesian government enacted anti-poaching laws and created Komodo National Park.
The Zoo will continue to work towards establishing a successful breeding pair to help conserve this unique threatened species. In the interim, the public can still view Komodo dragons at the Zoo’s Herpetarium. Nadira, meaning “rare,” and Zahra, meaning “shining, luminous girl” arrived September 2013, from the Memphis Zoo.
“Jahat was a beautiful dragon that will be missed by his keepers, and especially by all the Zoo visitors who admired him”, stated Clint Guadiana, Supervisor of Herpetology. Visitors who would like to pay their respects may leave cards or flowers in the Zoo office for display in the Realm of the Dragon exhibit or send us a message using #byejahat.
The Gladys Porter Zoo is a visitor-oriented zoological and botanical park, dedicated to the preservation of nature through education, conservation and research.