Zoo Mourns Passing of Komodo Dragon

 Pittsburgh) (March 2012)—It is with great sadness that the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium announces that Noname, our 18 ½ -year-old Komodo dragon, has passed away.

Noname was born from the second clutch of eggs hatched in the United States. He was hand raised at the National Zoo in Washington, DC before moving to Pittsburgh in 1997. He was 3 years old at the time of his arrival, 3 ½-feet long, and weighed 24 pounds. He grew quickly, and at the time of his death he was 9-feet long and weighed over 230 pounds.

His mother was a gift from the Prince of Indonesia to President Ronald Reagan, who gave her a home in the National Zoo in 1988. This was an extreme honor since Komodo dragons are designated a national treasure in Indonesia and none existed in the United States at the time. Later, more dragons were sent to the United States and in the early 1990’s his mother was paired with a male from the Cincinnati Zoo and Noname hatched on August 31, 1993. 

When he arrived, his paperwork read “no name.” Keepers didn’t have a name for him and started calling him “Noname” and it never changed.

Keepers were first aware that something was wrong with Noname when he became lethargic and could not hold his food down, then he stopped eating, even his favorite foods.

“We conducted blood tests, and an ultrasound, echocardiogram, and radiographs to determine what was causing his vomiting,” says Dr. Ginger Takle, director of animal health. “The x-rays showed that he had a possible obstruction.

“Surgery is always risky, especially with such a large animal, so it was our last resort. Because he is a reptile, he would be laying on the incision on his belly. However, after treating him with fluids, antibiotics, and enemas, we determined surgery was his only chance of survival.” Shortly after surgery, Noname’s heart stopped. Veterinarians did, in fact, find a partial obstruction in his large intestine and pockets of fluid in his abdomen. Results from the final necropsy (animal autopsy) will not be available for weeks.

Komodo dragons have a reputation of being aggressive and deadly, due to toxic bacteria in their bite. “Noname was hand-raised and that may have contributed to his being very relaxed when interacting with  keepers and visitors and never showed any aggression as they posed for pictures around him,” says Henry Kacprzyk, curator of Kids Kingdom and reptiles.