Dragons in New York – level 3
The world’s largest lizard species returns to New York’s Bronx Zoo where an exhibit called “Amazing Monitors” opens on Saturday.
The zoo’s three Komodo dragons, two female and one male, will roam through the indoor space throughout the day, one at a time. The trio is still just teenagers and are just over five feet long (1.5 metres). The adult males can grow to nine feet (2.7m) from nose to tail and weigh around 163 kilos.
These dragons are native to the Indonesian islands. Their diet consists of small and large mammals, including deer and buffalo, reptiles, including smaller Komodo dragons, birds, eggs, and carrion. And they’re efficient predators – they can consume up to 80 per cent of their body weight in one feeding. The Komodos’ bite can inflict a serious wound on their prey and their saliva contains a toxic mix of bacteria and venom fractions. So if the dragon’s bite doesn’t kill its prey swiftly, the saliva mix will ensure death within a few days.
With a highly developed sense of smell, the lizards can track their dying prey for distances of up to almost ten kilometres. Despite all this, they are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Although they are classed as vulnerable, we’d be staying well back from the glass.
Difficult words: species (animal kind), monitor (large tropical lizard), roam (walk), carrion (meat of dead animals), efficient (good), prey (animal that is eaten by another animal), saliva (liquid in the mouth), venom (poison), swiftly (quickly).
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