"Noname," the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's Komodo dragon for more than 14 years, died during surgery on Sunday.
Henry Kacprzyk, curator of reptiles and Kids Kingdom at the zoo, said Noname came to Pittsburgh from the National Zoo. He said Disney's Animal Kingdom also wanted the animal, but the National Zoo thought the staff in Pittsburgh was more professional.
He said Noname became comfortable with people and their presence.
"He got used to our voices, and then he got used to our touching him and stroking him, patting him," said Kacprzyk. "He just seemed to be very accepting… His brother on the other hand, I think he's put at least three keepers in the hospital."
Komodo dragons are a threatened species known for their aggressiveness, deadly bite, and size. Noname was about nine feet long and 230 pounds. In their natural habitat, in Indonesia, Komodo dragons eat pigs, goats, deer, buffalo, and horses. The average lifespan of a Komodo dragon in the wild is 30 years.
Kacprzyk said they noticed Noname was sick about 10 days ago when he became lethargic and refused to eat.
"One of the reasons we did the exploratory surgery is we needed to do something. It was definite that this animal wasn't going to survive," said Kacprzyk. "What we thought we would find is some bowel obstruction, something in the intestinal track that was keeping him from eating and defecating."
Kacprzyk said the necropsy, an animal autopsy, has so far found Noname had a condition that couldn't be corrected through surgery.
He said the zoo is hoping to get another Komodo dragon.
"What I do know is, it's possible we can get another animal, but we will not get another Noname," said Kacprzyk. "We lost a unique animal."