Pittsburgh Zoo Loses Unique Komodo Dragon

The komodo dragon, a reptile quite a bit longer than the average grown man's height, was one of my personal favorite creatures on visits to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. It was a kind of scaly greeter--one of the first animals you saw on your way in. So it was a loss to all zoo visitors when the dragon died recently in surgery. This year marks the Chinese Year of the Dragon. In order to celebrate, we visited the zoo last month to meet its komodo dragon. The Allegheny Front's Dennis Funk has this remembrance of the dragon called Noname.

Read the transcript »Close the Transcript

Transcript

OPEN: This year marks the Chinese Year of the Dragon. In order to celebrate, we visited the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium last month to meet its 18-year-old komodo dragon. So we were saddened when we learned the animal died last week during surgery. The Allegheny Frontís Dennis Funk has this remembrance of the dragon called Noname.

FUNK: A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Zoo's Henry Kacprzyk took me face-to-face with a dragon.

KACPRZYK: I like to open the door and give him a second or two. Hey, big boy.

FUNK: Well, not a ferocious fire breather, but a komodo dragon, called Noname, living in captivity at the zoo. Though komodo dragons are commonly known for being fierce predators, capable of eating a person whole, I met a creature that was more like a big, scaly dog.

KACPRZYK: Don't tell me you don't like scratched. Some times I feel like Fred Flintstone with Dino. He is kinda nice. He comes over and he does know his name and he's very responsive to staff.

FUNK: It was when Noname had trouble eating that his keepers worried he might have an obstruction that required surgery. It was considered a risky but necessary procedure. Komodo dragons typically live about 24 years in captivity and 30 in the wild. As an endangered species, there are only around 5,000 komodo dragons remaining in their native Indonesia. Noname was hatched at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, where the first two dragons in the U.S. were originally given to President Reagan by the Indonesian government.

KACPRZYK: As a matter of fact, this particular dragon is out of the female that came out of that gift. It's a national treasure to that country.

FUNK: With Noname's passing last week, the Pittsburgh Zoo lost a unique treasure of its own. Kacprzyk sounded saddened by the loss.

KACPRZYK: It's possible we can get another animal, but we will not get another Noname.

FUNK: For The Allegheny Front, I'm Dennis Funk.