Phoenix Zoo mourns loss of siblings - | WBTV Charlotte

Phoenix Zoo mourns loss of siblings

(Source: Phoenix Zoo) (Source: Phoenix Zoo)

Ivan and Gaia were siblings who spent their entire lives together. Forever bonded, they died within days of each other, eventually succumbing to the cruel fate of Father Time.

"Ivan was a big animal with an even bigger personality and will be missed," a friend said.

Gaia was quite the character, too, the friend said. "She liked to tease Ivan a little bit."

Needless to say, their community, the Phoenix Zoo, is in mourning.

Ivan and Gaia, you see, were born from the same clutch of eggs nearly 20 years ago and were part of the Phoenix Zoo's Komodo Dragon exhibit when they died.

Ivan died Sept. 12, and his sister, Gaia, followed on Sept. 19, said their "friend," Paula Swanson, the zoo's manager of ectotherms.

"(Ivan) was curious and would interact with visitors through the glass," Swanson said. "He liked getting a bath via the hose and also enjoyed being scratched on the back occasionally with a scrub brush.

"He knew his name and recognized his keepers," Swanson said. "Even though he was fast and strong, he would nap in the exhibit yard and ignore the wild rabbits that were munching on grass right next to him."

Swanson said Komodo dragons are territorial, and Gaia and Ivan were never in the same enclosure for their safety, not to mention Gaia's teasing.

"They had to modify their exhibit because sometimes when Ivan would walk by, if (Gaia) saw his tail sticking out from under the doorway, she'd go over and try to nip Ivan's tail," Swanson said. "It would really make him mad. She was being a bratty sister."

The Phoenix Zoo has two remaining, two dragons born in January, in Memphis. The dragons, which haven't been named yet, were born in Memphis and brought to the zoo on March 14.

In captivity, Komodo dragons typically live to their late teens, Swanson said.

They're on display in the Bush House, but will be moved later as they mature, according to a zoo news release.

The Phoenix Zoo contributes to Komodo dragon field conservation, the release said. Only about 3,000 to 5,000 dragons remain in the wild on four small Indonesian islands, most of which occur in Komodo National Park.

They are listed by International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable.

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