Paignton Zoo brings Komodo dragon to Devon

Komodo dragon. It’s one of the most evocative names in the natural world – and now there’s one right on our doorstep. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has brought a six-year-old female Komodo dragon to Devon.

Let’s not beat about the bush here: this is the largest species of lizard on the planet. An adult Komodo has skin like chain mail, has cannibal inclinations and is the only land reptile that’s top of the food chain in its particular ecosystem. This is a dazzling, fascinating star of the natural world.

Komodo dragon climbing at Paignton Zoo, Devon

An evening event will give a few people the first chance to see the giant lizard in her new enclosure; tickets sold out within days, but the Zoo is planning to launch a Komodo experience package next year, so watch this space!

Staff and volunteers at Paignton Zoo are as excited as guests about getting close to this species; those who know say there really is nothing quite like seeing your first Komodo dragon in the flesh.

Komodo dragon looking on at Paignton Zoo, Devon

In the wild, a dragon can survive on one meal a month – but it can also eat up to half its own body weight in one meal. Teeth get replaced if and when they are lost. And one food fact that seems at odds with the rest; this reptile produces pellets of indigestible matter and regurgitates them, like an owl.

You might think that a Komodo dragon could not possibly be vulnerable in any way – but Vulnerable is their conservation status on the IUCN Red List. What are they vulnerable to? The relentless, creeping encroachment of people into their world.

Dragons prefer life on their own. They only come together for breeding and even then there can be fights, particularly over food. You really wouldn’t want to come between a dragon and her dinner… But from the end of July you’ll be able to visit Paignton Zoo, creep into Crocodile Swamp, lean over the railing – carefully – and maybe look a Komodo dragon straight in the eye…

This blog article was brought to you by Phil Knowling of Paignton Zoo.

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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Paignton, Devon

Paignton Zoo is one of Britain’s top zoos, home to some of the planet’s rarest and most amazing creatures. Discover all your favourites, including gorillas and orang-utans, giraffes, lions, tigers and rhinos, and be ready for a few surprises along the way too. Do you know what a coati is? Have you ever seen a capybara? And don’t forget the plants – there are hundreds of rare and beautiful specimens around the site. A must-see is Crocodile Swamp. Here, amid the lush tropical foliage and steamy atmosphere, you’ll come face-to-face with huge crocodiles plus large snakes, turtles and fish – enter if you dare! Then there’s Amphibian Ark, the Avian Breeding Centre and Monkey Heights.

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