A zoo worker’s dragon bite turned into quite a serious affair when the Henry Doorly Zoo worker’s wounds would not stop bleeding. A Komodo dragon’s venom makes for a low survival rate, and the zoo worker had to be rushed to the hospital.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, a five-foot, cat-eating lizard in Florida became well-known for eating owls, kitties, and dachshunds (no, not the wiener dogs!).
Assistant general curator Stephanie Huettner said the zoo worker’s dragon bite was serious enough to require a trip to the hospital, but also corrected earlier media reports that the worker was critically injured. Still, the wound kept bleeding, so the female employee was treated at the Nebraska Medical Center. According to the Associated Press, the injury required stitches, but the zoo worker has already been released within a day.
The Henry Doorly Zoo received Albi the Komodo dragon from the San Antonio Zoo in 1997 and he has been on display in special quarters at the Cat Complex, which houses one adult Komodo dragon and two juveniles. This particular Komodo dragon was a juvenile, and weighed in at about 10 pounds at four feet long. As a comparison, adult Komodo dragons can weigh more than 300 pounds and reach 10 feet in length.
The zoo worker’s dragon bite could have been much worse. The muscles of the Komodo’s jaws and its serrated teeth allow it to bite down quickly, although it is now strong enough to hold down its prey like a crocodile.
Biologists used to believe that bacteria in the Komodo dragon’s mouth infected bitten animals. Scientists had found around 50 different bacterial strains in the saliva, some of which are highly septic.
In 2009, researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia concluded that Komodo dragons produce venom whose toxins cause their prey to go into shock in addition to reducing blood clotting. This is why the zoo worker’s dragon bite would not stop bleeding. The Komodo dragon’s venom also reduces blood pressure, when in combination with blood loss can severely weaken and kill the victim.
“The combination of this specialized bite and venom seem to minimize the dragon’s contact with its prey, and this allows it to take large animals,” said Dr. Brian Fry of the University of Melbourne.
Fortunately, the Henry Doorly Zoo worker’s dragon bite was not fatal. Presumably, the wound had to be thoroughly cleaned of all that nasty bacterial, but the venom alone is apparently not enough to be fatal if treated quickly.
[Image via Google Images]