This year, 2012, is the 100th anniversary of the finding and confirmation of the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), one of cryptozoology’s “classic animals of discovery.”
Widespread notoriety came about in 1912, when Peter Ouwens, the director of the Zoological Museum at Bogor, Java, published a paper on the species (found on Komodo island) after receiving a photo and a skin from Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek of the Dutch colonial administration, as well as two other specimens from a collector. The year of this paper [Ouwens, P.A. (1912). "On a large Varanus species from the island of Komodo," Bull. Jard. Bot. Buit. 2 (6): 1–3] is the official date of “discovery” in the West.
Later, the Komodo Dragon was the driving factor for an expedition to Komodo Island by W. Douglas Burden in 1926. After returning with 12 preserved specimens and 2 live ones, this expedition provided the inspiration for the 1933 movie King Kong. It was also Burden who coined the common name “Komodo Dragon.” Three of his specimens were stuffed and are still on display in the American Museum of Natural History.
Now word comes that the first Komodo Dragon to be placed on public display in the State of Florida has died.
The large monitor lizard named “Jack” (pictured above) died at Zoo Miami on Friday morning, April 13, 2012.
The about 24-year-old Komodo Dragon arrived at the zoo in June 1995 with a female named Lubier as part of an agreement with Taman Safari Park and the Indonesian government, the zoo said. In 1998 the pair produced 28 eggs and all but one hatched.
Komodo dragons can be almost 10 feet and weigh up to 250 pounds, with only about 6000 left in the wild.