SOURCE: Denver Zoo

July 09, 2015 15:28 ET

Denver Zoo Mourns Loss of Komodo Dragon "Castor"

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - July 09, 2015) - Denver Zoo is saddened to announce the death of "Castor," a 21-year-old male Komodo dragon. Castor had exhibited a slow decline in the mobility of his back legs for the last six years, due to arthritis. Zoo staff provided Castor outstanding care through a variety of methods, including a treatment plan of physical therapy, pain medication and even acupuncture. Although these efforts prolonged his quality of life, this week he showed severe difficulty moving his back legs causing animal care and veterinary staff to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him on the morning of Thursday, July 8 at Denver Zoo. Castor was one of the ten oldest Komodo dragons in North American zoos.

"Castor was a remarkable animal and he will be missed. Although this is never an easy decision, it was the right one. We'll all miss him very much, but we're glad he lived such a long, happy life here at the zoo. It was just his time," says Denver Zoo Sr. Vice President of Animal Care & Conservation Brian Aucone.

Castor began showing signs of arthritis in his rear legs in 2009. Over the years, staff mitigated his pain through medications. In November 2013, he began regular physical therapy treatments with a local animal therapist. Last month, staff also introduced acupuncture. He initially responded well to all of his treatments and veterinarians kept a close eye on his condition with regular radiographs on his joints.

Castor was born on February 2, 1994 at the Cincinnati Zoo and arrived at Denver Zoo in July of the same year. He was an offspring of Naga, a Komodo dragon given to former president George H.W. Bush as a gift from the president of Indonesia, and among only the second clutch of eggs to successfully hatch in the United States. He then sired two clutches of his own, resulting in seven dragons.

Denver Zoo is home to three other Komodo dragons, females Kristika and Anika, and Castor's 12-year-old son, Raja.

About Denver Zoo: Denver Zoo brings education alive, providing a unique learning experience that sparks an interest in the natural world for visitors and program participants alike. Home to 4,300 animals representing more than 600 species, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care.

A leader in green action, Denver Zoo is the greenest zoo in the country and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the environment in support of all species by attaining the highest environmental standards. Since 1996, Denver Zoo has participated in about 600 animal conservation projects in 62 countries on all seven continents.

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Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Tiffany Barnhart
    (720) 337-1444

    Sean Andersen-Vie
    (720) 337-1418