The Roger Williams Park Zoo is now the only zoo in New England to have a Komodo dragon.
The zoo introduced its first ever Komodo dragon, a 3-year-old female named Elsie, today, Endangered Species Day. Komodo dragons are a threatened species, which means they are at risk of becoming endangered.
Dr. Jeremy Goodman, executive director at Roger Williams Park Zoo, said the extinction of any animal is a global issue because every species plays a unique role in the ecosystem.
“We don’t know what lessons we’re going to learn from the Komodo dragon or what will happen if they ever disappear from this planet, where their vital role in the ecosystem lies, and it’s very possible that without this animal, it’ll set off a chain of other reactions,” Goodman said.
Goodman said he hopes Elsie will help people develop an appreciation for reptiles, which are typically seen as scary. He said he hopes people will see that reptiles are impressive animals worth saving.
Elsie will eventually be a part of the zoo’s breeding program that works with other accredited zoos to save endangered species.
The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest lizard. Females can grow more than 8 feet long, while males can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh 150 pounds.