Sunday, October 01, 2006

Komodo dragons and other observations

Watching you on the right is a Komodo dragon, an Indonesian native, currently residing at our local zoo. They are an endangered species, with only about 6,000 left in the world. This lizard is probably around 9 feet long, from snout to tail, and around 150 lbs., and his skin has interesting color variations. He eyed us carefully as we studied him.

According to info at the zoo, komodo dragons are carnivores, and although they often are found eating carrion, they've been observed hunting live prey and can run up to 13 mph, in bursts. Their bite is dangerous; their mouths carry over 50 strains of bacteria. So even if their prey escapes, if it's bitten, it will die later from the bacteria. Then the komodo dragon tracks down the body by its smell--and there's dinner, ready on the table. Carry-out, anyone?

Although they do a good job with the zoo here, it's sad to see previously wild animals confined to pens behind chain link fencing. But as humans continue to take up more land, destroying habitat for many wild animals, sometimes zoos, nature parks, animal reserves are the only way to keep some species from dying out completely.

I think there was a Twilight Zone, or Outer Limits episode where humans ended up being curiosities in a zoo. But then some of us live in cages already...

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