The San Antonio Zoo on Tuesday bid farewell to Bubba, a 28-year-old endangered Komodo dragon.
The Zoo shared news of the animal's passing on social media, saying that the 175-pound, eight-and-a-half foot dragon captivated the hearts of staff and guests with his demeanor and personality.
In his later years, Bubba received national attention for being the first exotic animal in the world to be treated with an innovative product created to reduce inflammation in joints. Acupuncture, massages and stem cell replacement were also a part of Bubba’s regular medical care regimen, the post said.
“Bubba will be missed by all of his caretakers and guests at the zoo,” the post read. “Please keep our animal care staff in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of this family member.”
Bubba first arrived at the San Antonio Zoo in 1997. At the time of his passing, he was one of the oldest Komodo dragons in human care. His lizard legacy lives on in more than a dozen offspring, three of whom have gone on to have their own hatchlings, the zoo said.
Fewer than 6,000 Komodo dragons remain in the wild, scientists estimate. According to National Geographic, asexual reproduction allows female Komodo dragons to reproduce, though it comes with a significant drawback. That process only results in sons.
The Komodo dragon is at risk of extinction because of the impacts of climate change. They're also hunted illegally for their skins. The International Union for Conservation of Nature shifted the status of Komodo dragons from "vulnerable" to "endangered" in 2021.
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