Brother, sister Komodo dragons die at Phoenix Zoo

PHOENIX - Two 20-year-old Komodo dragons have passed away this month at the Phoenix Zoo, officials said Friday.

Brother Ivan and his sister, Gaia, were both born from the same clutch of eggs and were on display in the Land of the Dragons exhibit.

Paula Swanson, the zoo's manager of ectotherms, said both of the dragons died due to "multiple age-related conditions," based on initial necropsy results.

Ivan died on Sept. 12. Gaia died exactly one week later on Sept. 19.

The Phoenix Zoo does have two other Komodo dragons, which were brought to the zoo earlier this year. They are currently located in the Bush House, but will be moved as they get older.

Swanson described Ivan as curious, fast and strong. She said he would interact with guests through the exhibit's glass, while also enjoying the occasional bath from a hose.

Gaia was your typical "bratty sister," Swanson said. When Ivan would walk by, Gaia would try to nip at his tail through the doorway.

Ivan and Gaia were housed in separate exhibits at the Land of the Dragons, which opened in Nov. 11, 2009.

Ivan originally was housed at the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida, while Gaia was originally housed at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas before joining the Phoenix Zoo.

The zoo said Komodo dragons are considered "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and are threatened by global warming and rising sea levels. Between 3,000 - 5,000 dragons remain in the wild on four islands in Indonesia, according to a press release.

The Phoenix Zoo contributes to Komodo dragon conservation efforts through the Komodo dragon Species Survival Plan, as well as maintaining field research at the zoo.

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