A geriatric Komodo dragon died Monday at Zoo Atlanta, where he had lived most of his life.
Slasher, 20, was euthanized due to various age-related complications compromising his quality of life, Keisha Hines, zoo spokeswoman, said Monday afternoon. Komodo dragons have lived into their 20s, but begin to show signs of aging in their upper teens, Hines said.
“We see our share of members and guests who have an avid interest in reptiles, but it’s not often that visitors make the same sort of connection with a reptile that we see them make with many other animals. That can’t be said for Slasher,” Raymond B. King, Zoo Atlanta President and CEO, said in an emailed statement. “He was one of the zoo’s most charismatic residents, and few people who ever saw him, much less had the opportunity to meet and feed him, ever forgot him.”
Slasher, who hatched at the National Zoo in October 1992, moved in July 1993 to Zoo Atlanta, where he had two habitats.
“Slasher helped to pioneer the Zoo’s Komodo Dragon Wild Encounter program, which allowed guests to go behind the scenes to feed the giant lizard,” Hines said. “While he was already considered geriatric for his species by that time, he consistently amazed his visitors with his speed and agility.”
Native to Indonesia, Komodo dragons are Earth’s largest lizard species and are capable of hunting prey as large as deer. Zoo Atlanta is also home to a young Komodo dragon, 2-year-old male Rinca, who lives in the World of Reptiles.
Slasher’s necropsy will be conducted at UGA.