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San Diego County Digest

San Diego

July 06, 1986

San Diego Zoo keepers plan to use the sperm of a rare Komodo dragon that died six months ago to impregnate a female lizard that gave him the cold shoulder for 10 years.

If successful, it would be the first time a Komodo dragon had been sired in captivity.

Samples of sperm were taken from the male dragon shortly before he died. The male spent 10 years at the zoo with a female that would have little to do with him.

"Five or six years ago, they seemed to be going through some kind of courtship, but they never mated," said Dr. John Phillips, the zoo's comparative physiologist.

The pair were the only Komodo dragons in captivity in the Western Hemisphere. The dragon is found only on the Island of Komodo in Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Archipelago. The lizards can grow to as much as eight feet in length, and there are about 7,000 left on the island.

Keepers plan to anesthetize the female sometime soon and inject it with hormones that will cause it to ovulate. About 30 vials of semen from the departed male will then be injected.

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