Komodo dragon has 'virgin birth' at zoo

Jan. 24, 2007 at 3:51 PM
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CHESTER, England, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Through an unusual process of asexual reproduction, a Komodo dragon recently hatched five offspring without a mate at a popular British zoo.

Marking the first time the reproductive process of parthenogenesis has been found in a Komodo dragon, Chester Zoo resident Flora gave laid seven eggs last May and five hatched successfully, The Times of London said.

Officials at the zoo have expressed amazement at the veritable "virgin birth" and their female local resident's new role as a mother and a father.

"Flora is oblivious to the excitement she has caused, but we are delighted to say she is now a mum and dad," zoo official Kevin Buley told The Times. "When the first of the babies hatched, we didn't know whether to make her a cup of tea or pass her the cigars."

The act of asexual reproduction, that is typically associated with more traditional lizard species, comes into light as nearly 4,000 of the creatures are thought to be alive worldwide.

The Times said that one problem with the process, that is enhanced by limiting the presence of male Komodo dragons, is that all eggs laid will hatch male children.

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