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Komodo Dragons Have a Big Reveal at the Nashville Zoo

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Wednesday, July 26, 2023 was an extra special day at the Nashville Zoo as the Komodo Dragon Habitat officially opened with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for members and media. Children were given safe scissors to assist with the slicing. There was a lot of excitement as patrons spotted the Komodo Dragon in his lush green environment.

Komodo Dragons are now a very big deal at the Nashville Zoo.

This newest exhibit was years in the making with planning and construction so its completion was a happy day for the many dedicated people involved. Today, the Komodo Dragon Habitat at the Nashville Zoo is the largest in the United States.

We learned during the opening remarks that Lil Sebastian is a typical aggressive male so he is the first Komodo Dragon to live in this pristine habitat. Soon females will be introduced in hopes of a family to follow. Funny enough, Lil Sebastian is about 200 pounds and nine feet in length making him the largest lizard at the Zoo.

His species can reach 10 feet in length and more than 300 pounds in weight. They are predators with a powerful jaw, sharp teeth paired with a toxic bite. Since they are not fast runners, they generally ambush their pray which includes deer, goats, pigs and even sometimes larger mammals. Since they prefer hot climates, the dragons will have indoor homes when the weather cools down.

This newest exhibit was years in the making.

The Komodo Dragon Habitat is next to the animal hospital where patrons can observe procedures. The hospital is one of many examples of the Nashville Zoo's devotion to the wellfare of all their animals. Many of the habitats at the Zoo have natural barriers to replicate the wild while allowing animals to roam insuring better mental and physical health. The flamboyant flamingos stand faithfully in their pond while in another section at the Zoo monkeys playfully swing from tree limbs.

There are also a number of opportunities to get up close to the critters such as the goat and kangaroo pens. Other breeds such as the bear and tiger are more allusive so it is even more exciting to spot them. Reptiles also have a prominent place here.

The Komodo Dragon Habitat is the newest display but more are under construction including the Leopard Forest Exhibit coming in 2024 and a parking garage to accommodate more guests. In addition to being an educational and entertaining place for children the Zoo hosts a variety of events that might appeal to adults such as "Wildlife Meets Nightlife at Sunset Safari" (09/08/23) which is a fundraiser that will feature food and drinks from local restaurants paired with live entertainment and special animal hosts.

It's feeding time with Nashville Zoo Curator of Ectotherms Dale McGinnity and Lil' Sebastian.

"Zoolumination" returns this winter to enchant kids of all ages with its exhilaritng and illumatinating celebrations of Chinese paper lanterns. We were told that it is going to be even bigger and better than ever! So, as you can see, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Nashville Zoo at any time of year!

ABOUT THE NASHVILLE ZOO: The Nashville Zoo is a nonprofit organization celebrating 25 years at Grassmere. The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, exemplifying the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. Nashville Zoo is actively engaged in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs, and education initiatives in our backyard as well as around the world. With support from the Nashville community, donors, and sponsors, the Zoo is ranked the number one tourist attraction in Middle Tennessee and welcomes more than one million guests annually. The Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike just six miles south of downtown.

The Nashville Zoo's Jim Bartoo preps the ribbon cutting for an overflow crowd at Grassmere.

Related Links: For more information on the NASHVILLE ZOO and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Nashville Zoo | Zoolumination Is Off to a Roaring Start In Spectacular Return to Nashville Zoo | Zoolumination Is Enchanting and Enlightening in Music City


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