LOS ANGELES — Twenty-two Komodo dragons have hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo this month, giving a modest boost to the world's endangered population.
The zoo's adult female Komodo, Lima, laid the eggs on Jan. 22. The first one popped through its soft-sided egg shell on Aug. 8 and hatchlings kept coming for two weeks.
Komodos are the world's largest lizards and are popular attractions at zoos, including the Sedgwick County zoo, from the United States to Europe. All 2,500 left in the wild can be found at the 700-square-mile Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
Komodos are cannibalistic and usually eat their young and eggs of their own species, so zoo officials say staying alive is tricky for a hatchling.
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In the wild, a young Komodo will sprint up the nearest tree to avoid being eaten by adults. They will stay in the trees and eat insects and other lizards until they get too heavy for the tree. By then, they will have developed enough to protect themselves from adult Komodos on the ground.
This is the first time the Los Angeles Zoo has succeeded at a breeding attempt. It joins fewer than 10 other zoos in North America that have made it work.
Eleven babies will eventually go to the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and the others will go to zoos assigned by the Species Survival Program, curator Ian Recchio said Thursday. Los Angeles will just keep Lima and the adult male, Buru.