Largest lizard in the world makes debut at PB Zoo - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Largest lizard in the world makes debut at PB Zoo

By Lindsay Cohen email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) -- Weighing in at a modest 83 pounds but topping the charts at about seven feet long, this island girl is probably not one you're likely to see in a bikini anytime soon... especially with her scaly skin, sharp claws, and forked tongue.

Hannibal, a female Komodo Dragon, makes her debut at the Palm Beach Zoo on Friday, but before the bright lights and camera bulbs make their way into her new home, she was scoping out the trees, the bushes, and the man-made pond on Thursday morning.

Zoo officials are excited to show off the rare Komodo Dragon species, not only for the sheer sight but for the message of conservation it brings.

"They're doing okay, but there's only about six thousand [dragons alive]," said Keith Lovett, Director of Living Collections at the Palm Beach Zoo. "The biggest thing about island ecosystems is that there's not a lot of room for error. If a lot of human inhabitants come in over those areas, there's not a lot of places the Komodos will go."

"It's a very fragile ecosystem these Komodos come from, so that's the message we're trying to teach," Lovett added.

Komodos are found on four islands near Indonesia and can reach up to 10 feet in length and 300 pounds in weight. They are the largest lizards in the world, and can eat up to 80 percent of their body weight in a single feeding.

"They can take down some very large animals -- wild boar, deer species, stuff like that," Lovett added, "and sometimes they don't kill the animal when they attack them. They have in their saliva about 50 different types of bacteria and some venemous qualities to that bacteria, and so sometimes, when they attack their prey, they may not kill it. But a couple days later that animal will die from the infection. And because they have a great sense of smell they can track it in the wild and get it a couple days later."

Hannibal makes her public debut at the Palm Beach Zoo on Friday, February 13th. She is on loan from Miami Metrozoo for about a year, authorities said.

For more information about the Palm Beach Zoo, click on www.palmbeachzoo.org.

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