March 27, 2019

Denver Zoo Loses Komodo Dragon, Raja

We’re sad to share that Raja, our male Komodo dragon, and one of the most popular, iconic animals in Tropical Discovery, died over the weekend. Raja was born at Denver Zoo in 2003 and spent more than 16 years wowing millions of visitors, who marveled at his 8-foot, 95-pound frame. Few animals in Tropical Discovery—or at the Zoo, for that matter—garnered as many “oohs” and “aahs” as Raja, especially when he sauntered along the glass to greet guests eye-to-eye. Although Komodo dragons are known for their razor-sharp teeth, massive claws and ability to ambush large prey, Raja will be remembered as calm, well-tempered and comfortable around his caretakers. In fact, he would allow—and even seemed to enjoy—the presence of keepers and veterinarians who provided him with exceptional care throughout his life.

An initial necropsy (animal autopsy) confirmed several health problems for which he was already being treated, including spinal disease and arthritis. He received regular physical therapy to alleviate pain and help his mobility, and increased supportive care in his final days as our animal care team noticed a decline in his health. We encourage you to stop by Tropical Discovery on your next visit to pay tribute to Raja by learning about his species, which are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and threatened in the wild by loss of habitat, tourism and poaching.

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