San Francisco Is Now Home to Two of the World’s Largest Lizards

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Zoo became home to a three-year-old male Komodo dragon, joining the facility’s senior female dragon.

Komodo dragons are fascinating creatures. For starters, they’re one of only three venomous lizards known to science — biting down on their prey to then follow them around until they succumb to blood poisoning. They’re incredibly clever, capable of recognizing individual people and learning their names… much like a dog. These 200lb lizards also seem to engage in aspects of play; there’s something unexplainable comical about seeing the world’s largest lizard donning a bucket on its head.

Fortunately for us Bay Area locals, the San Francisco Zoo is one of just a handful of zoos in America to have this species on display. And they recently received another animal to join its resident female dragon.

“Currently, 49 [Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited] facilities hold Komodo dragons, helping to bring awareness to this endangered species, first discovered by western scientists in 1912,” reads an announcement from the zoological institution announcing its newest male dragon. 

Komodo dragons are the world’s largest lizard species, though not the longest; the latter crown belongs to the crocodile monitor of New Guinea, which can stretch over nine feet in length.

But unlike crocodile monitors, Komodos are becoming increasingly rare in the wild. They live on just five small islands in southeastern Indonesia, including Komodo Island, after which they are named. Because of their large size, these lizards can take up to 9 years to reach sexual maturity — years longer than many other monitor lizards. Couple this with the lack of egg-laying females and increased rates of asexual reproduction, which essentially reproduces female clones of the mother dragon, and the species has declined to under 1,500 adults in the wild.

Zoo patrons will get a glimpse into the secretive life of these fantastical beasts as they navigate the expansive exhibit dedicated to its pair of dragons, all while learning about the conservation measure in place to ensure their continued existence.

“Guests can learn from graphic signage about Komodo dragons, follow footprints around the habitat, and talk to Zoo Docents, who will be on hand to interpret Komodo dragon facts with their biofact display,” says the zoo. 

For those reading with small humans of their own, the zoo is hosting a two-month-long celebration called “Tales of the Komodo Dragon” that is sponsored by First 5 California (F5CA) — a non-profit geared to parents with young children and supporting their emotional well-being. 

The SF Zoo is also going to kick off its Komodo Karnival on Saturday, November 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring games, prizes, and a climbing wall, all of which are free perks with paid zoo admission or membership. This, too, will also be the first day the new male exhibit will be on display for the public to see.

TBD on the new male dragon’s name; that’s going to be announced by the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia on November 18th.

Is it too basic that we hope the juvenile male dragon will be called “Bowser”? No? Yes? (Maybe.)

For more information on the San Francisco Zoo including membership and admission info, as well as details on the facility’s Komodo dragon exhibit, visit

Feature image: female Komodo dragon currently at SF Zoo (Credit: Courtesy of SF Zoo)

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