Video: Footage of the Komodo dragon
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A group of children wandering through the Cat Complex at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium this morning received a thrill: the chance to meet a Komodo dragon.
The 6-foot-long lizard named Albi looked deceptively benign with his dazzling skin, varying from greens to oranges and yellows. At times, he even looked a little bit like he was smiling.
The kids wanted to get closer, but the adults thought he looked scary and were happy to keep their distance.
The dragon, hatched at the San Antonio Zoo in 1997, came here from Houston, where he had been raised.
His species is carnivorous, meaning he eats meat. A Komodo dragon's saliva is full of bacteria, and he has sharp, serrated teeth, enabling him to disable and kill his prey.
When Albi was born, he weighed a quarter-pound and was about 6 inches long. He now weighs close to 50 pounds. When he's full-grown, he'll weigh between 150 and 200 pounds, according to Dennis Pate, executive director of Omaha's zoo.
Albi has a specially outfitted exhibit in the Cat Complex.
"We had to bring the sun inside," said Sara Plesuk, the zoo's supervisor of reptiles and amphibians. "He needs the correct UV spectrum."
The rocks in the enclosure are heated, as is the water, because it's a tropical species that hails from Indonesia. He also has a "sunny" spot under a heat lamp, where he spends a lot of time.
Komodo dragons are considered vulnerable in the wild, where about 5,000 live. There are 119 among 49 Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions in North America.
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