Komodo Hatchlings Exchanged for 42 New Animals

Photo Credit: Ian Recchio

A child looks in awe at the magnificent tree frogs that went on display in the LAIR last week.

Good things come to those who wait, and in June of last year, animal transactions that Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles Ian Recchio had been planning since 2010, when the Zoo’s Komodo dragons Buru and Lima produced their first clutch of eggs, began to come through.

Recchio knew that those baby dragons (plus two subsequent litters) would be in demand far and wide. Sharing them meant expanding sustainable zoo populations of dragons—and more.

“The Zoo’s priority was to produce dragons for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, but the large clutches provided additional individuals. It was an opportunity to exchange dragons for some rare and unusual species that will further enhance our collection,” he comments. “Also, from a conservation standpoint, it’s a chance to establish new sustainable populations at other zoos in North America.”

The Komodo youngsters are now in zoos all over the world, including seven that went to Australia—an exchange that brought a new male koala to the Zoo in December 2012 and in June 2014, the first of two impressive groups of reptiles and amphibians: 42 individual animals representing seven species, including the magnificent tree frog that went on display in the LAIR last week (shown in the photo). Other species the Zoo received include rough-scaled pythons (the rarest python species in the world), endangered Mary River turtles, and shingle-back skinks—a species once common in the pet trade and at zoos that has been vanishing as Australia became more stringent about export of its wildlife.

Many of these animals will remain in Los Angeles, but Bronx, Tulsa, Atlanta, and Henry Doorly (Omaha) Zoos will all be receiving some of these precious species. More will arrive from down under this year. “Our good fortune is everyone’s good fortune,” Recchio says. “We want to share the wealth with other zoos. Conservation is a collaborative effort.”