There’s a new Komodo dragon in town. Slim, an 8-year-old male, arrived Wednesday evening from the Bronx Zoo in New York City. He is now the “Komodo in Residence” at the zoo’s Wee Play Adventure building.
Hatched in 2012 at Memphis Zoo, Slim went to live at Bronx Zoo in New York City for a stint before returning to Tennessee. Zoo Knoxville works with a collaborative network of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain a healthy and viable population of Komodo dragons in North America. Populations are vulnerable in their native range of the islands of Indonesia. Although Komodo dragons have excellent navigation skills and athletic ability, they rarely venture out of the area they are hatched in, putting them at risk due to climate change, sea-level rise, and human threats like poaching and burning of habitat to clear it for other uses.
The largest species of lizard on Earth, Komodo dragons can reach 10-feet in length and weigh 330 pounds when mature. Slim currently weighs about 50 pounds and measures just over 5 feet long. He will reach full maturity around age 12.
These giant dragons are excellent hunters, and researchers have discovered they bring down prey using venom in combination with sharp, serrated teeth and powerful neck muscles. Their specialized bite-and-pull motion introduces the toxin that quickens the loss of blood and sends the prey into shock. They can eat 80 percent of their body weight in a single feeding.
Slim can be viewed during daytime zoo hours in the Wee Play Adventure building. Masks will be required for ages 12 and up to enter indoor public areas such as Wee Play Adventure, restrooms, restaurants and the Zoo Shop. Guests will be asked to show they have one in their possession for entry to the zoo. Event attendees are asked to help maintain a safe environment by maintaining proper physical distancing of 6 feet between groups and wearing a mask if they cannot do so, washing their hands and using hand sanitizer stations throughout the zoo frequently, and staying home if you are sick or in a high risk group.
Zoo Knoxville is a nonprofit entity situated on 53 wooded acres just east of downtown Knoxville. Zoo Knoxville features exhibits of wild animals in natural habitats and is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and species survival. Zoo Knoxville is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Knoxville’s largest attraction, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Currently, the zoo is open Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. For more information visit zooknoxville.org.