March 22, 2011

Komodo Dragons Missing From Indonesian Zoo

Surabaya zoo keepers became aware of three missing baby Komodo dragons on February 28, however, they did not report this to zoo management until March 5.

Komodos are unique to a small group of eastern Indonesian islands and are the world's largest monitor lizard. They are known to be dangerous and can grow up to three meters (10 feet) long and weigh up to 140 kilograms (310 pounds). The missing Komodos measure 50 centimeters (20 inches) to a meter long, reported AFP.

"We're worried if the Komodo dragons escaped. They're dangerous. Young Komodos like the ones missing love to climb trees and can move very fast," says Agus Supangkat, the zoo's spokesperson. There are currently more than 50 Komodos at the Surabaya zoo.

According to AFP, in 2005, researchers found that the dragons' jaws carry highly developed poison, which can cause hemorrhaging that is paralyzing and creates spasms and shock to its victims.

Toni Sumampau, head of caretaker administration at the zoo, told the Jakarta Globe that the possibility that the dragons escaped were small.

"That means they were either eaten by predators [larger Komodos] or they were stolen," Sumampau says.

There was a dispute last year between managers Stany Soebakir and Basuki Rekso Wibowo about who should manage the zoo. The Forestry Ministry stepped in and formed the caretaker administration which is now headed by Sumampau, who believes that they were stolen to create a problem for the administration.

"It's the first [missing animal] case and we reported it straight to the Surabaya Police, because we want management to be as transparent as possible," Sumampau says.

According to Surabaya Police Chief of detectives, Adjutant Sr. Comr. Anom Wibowo, this case is under ongoing investigation.

Image Courtesy Dezidor/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)