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Press Releases

TORONTO ZOO ANNOUNCES FIRST BABY OF NEW YEAR

Rare Komodo Dragon First to Arrive in 2004

Press Release - For Immediate Release
For More Information
Cynthia Shipley
Supervisor, Public Relations
At (416) 392-5938

January 8, 2004, Toronto, Ontario: Instead of cutting a slit in his egg and then just looking around according to Komodo dragon practice, little Kilat, who arrived on January 3, 2004, came out in a flash. "He must have really wanted to be the first!," notes Andrew Lentini, Toronto Zoo Curatorial Keeper for Amphibians and Reptiles.

Named Kilat ("flash" in Indonesian) because of its impetuous arrival, the new hatchling, at 163 gm, is not only the first Zoobaby of 2004, but the largest Komodo dragon to be born at the Zoo to date. "It's growing like a weed and seems active and bright," comments Bob Johnson, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles.

Closely following Kilat, another Komodo dragon, Lima ("Five"), hatched on January 4th, followed by a sibling Enam ("Six") on January 6th. An earlier baby, Tiga ("Three") arrived on December 27th. The sex of the babies will be determined by blood tests. At time of writing, a fresh clutch of eggs was produced, so more births are due in the new year.

Komodo dragons are the largest flesh-eating lizards in the world. In the wild, where they exist only on four small Indonesian islands, part of the Pacific's "Rim of Fire", the remaining population of as few as 5,000 is vulnerable to disease, volcanic activity, and competition with feral dogs and man. They are considered to be severely endangered in their natural habitat. Komodo dragons lay from 20 to 30 eggs one month after breeding. After an incubation period, the infants will hatch and take to the trees to avoid predation.

While a total of 95 Komodo dragons representing 7 zoos have been successfully hatched in the United States, Satu, hatched on August 27th, 2003, was Canada's first. The births have also delighted the Minnesota Zoo, home of the hatchlings' father, Doni, who is at the Toronto Zoo on a breeding loan. Since neither of the Toronto Zoo's two females, Draca, or Loca, nor the male Doni were genetically represented in the captive population, these pairing were considered to be the highest ranked for the species in North America.

While "home" is currently the Zoo's Animal Health Centre, if all goes well the new arrivals, including Kilat, and any further hatchlings to come could one day be on display in a larger grouping with siblings Satu and Dua, already on exhibit in the Australasia Pavilion.

Media who require a photo of the Toronto Zoo's first baby of 2004 should contact Kathy Jury at (416) 392-5939.

Zoo Hours until March 8th: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Last admissions one hour before closing. General Admission 13-64 incl. is $18, Children 3 and under free, Children 4-12 are $10 and Seniors 65+ are $12. Parking is FREE until March. The Zoo is located at Meadowvale Road and Hwy. 401, Exit 389 east and west bound. For general information, call (416) 392-5929 or visit www.torontozoo.com