Veterinarians and members of the Bioparc Fuengirola Herpetology team detected last summer that the behavior of Ora, the female Komodo dragon in this park, was changing. After a laborious copulation with the male, known as Reo, the dragon was more restless than usual. Shortly after the reason was discovered: a clutch of twelve eggs.
"This fact marked a milestone in the conservation work that the park develops within the European Endangered Species Program (EEP) of this great monitor lizard," explains Bioparc Fuengirola on its website.
Eight months later and after a long and controlled incubation of these eggs, Bioparc Fuengirola announces the first successful reproduction of the species in the park, with the birth of five Komodo dragon pups.
"The success of the laying, incubation and expected hatching not only represents a hopeful future for this endangered species, but also demonstrates how necessary the work we do at our center is. From the outset, we have guaranteed the well-being of both reptiles and now also their young. For everyone it is undoubtedly a great achievement", explains Milagros Robledo, head of Herpetology at Bioparc Fuengirola.
uring these almost eight months of incubation, the team has carried out an almost daily control of the eggs. Every week, both the temperature and the humidity of the facilities that incubated them were regulated, guaranteeing an adequate environment for the development of the embryos and simulating the possible seasonal variations to which they could be exposed in their habitat. The hatching of these small Komodo dragons places the animal park in Malaga as a benchmark at a European level.
During these almost eight months of incubation, the team has carried out an almost daily control of the eggs. Every week, both the temperature and the humidity of the facilities that incubated them were regulated, guaranteeing an adequate environment for the development of the embryos and simulating the possible seasonal variations to which they could be exposed in their habitat.
At the beginning of March, this controlled process ended with the hatching of the first of the young called 'Juanito'. She was followed by Phoenix, Embum, Drakaris and Saya. Finally, Reo and Ora are parents.
“After the eggs were broken, we carefully monitored each one of them so that everything went well. The biggest ones came out of the egg on their own, the smallest ones have needed help to get out because they were still attached to the yolk. The pups have weights ranging from 50 to 120 grams, and measures from 30 to 44 centimeters”, highlights Robledo.
As in the natural habitat of this species, from the moment they are born, the young live separately from their parents and completely independently. This behavior is respected, keeping the little ones in separate terrariums. During these first weeks of life, the team of caregivers must closely monitor the diet of each one of them, and their state of health.
BIOPARC Fuengirola is one of the 30 zoos that are part of the EEP for this species, coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Within these conservation programs, collaboration between all participating centers is essential, sharing experiences and impressions on processes such as this long incubation. The activity carried out by each of them also follows the guidelines indicated by the coordinator of each EEP.
“Although the initial clutch was twelve eggs, in the end only five of them were viable. A figure that coincides with the recommendation of the EEP coordinator. This decision guarantees the genetic variability of Komodo dragons and strengthens these reptiles in the event that, in the future, it is necessary to reintroduce them into their habitat”, explains Jesús Recuero, technical director, veterinarian and curator of Bioparc Fuengirola.
The Komodo dragon: a species in serious danger of extinction with only 1,500 specimens worldwide
Komodo dragons are in danger of extinction. Currently, only about 1,500 specimens remain worldwide, 220 in conservation centers belonging to EAZA. In the wild, they can be found on the island of Flores, Komodo, Rinca, Padar, Nusa Kode and Gili Motang.
Since 2009, Bioparc Fuengirola and the Bioparc Foundation have been working on the Komodo Dragon Endangered Species Program (EEP) both 'ex situ' at its facilities and 'in-situ' on the island of Flores under the Komodo Survival project. Program. Through this, the participating centers work by monitoring the specimens that live on the island, contributing to the protection of their habitat and raising awareness in the local community.
In the last 15 years the dragon population has been reduced by 25% due to the burning of a large part of the forest where they live and due to poaching. At present, to all this, is added the enormous accumulation of waste that ocean currents carry and that ends up on the islands where these primitive and great monitor lizards live.