After making an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman about a decade ago, Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill said he “wanted to make history.”
So he took his sidekick — a 7-foot-long, 150-pound Komodo dragon named Khaos — to Times Square for a photo.
“It was a historic moment,” he said. “A Komodo dragon in the middle of Times Square. A lot of people were looking at us.”
Khaos, who became one of the zoo’s outreach animals and appeared on national television shows and at school presentations, died Monday at age18. For the past two years, Khaos had faced health challenges that restricted his mobility, but the cause of his death was not clear as of Tuesday.
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“It’s a very sad day for us,” he said.
Magill said Khaos wasn’t the typical Komodo dragon. Instead of being aggressive and at times dangerous, he was calm and “never showed any aggression.”
Khaos was part of a historic hatching in 1998 at Zoo Miami. He was one of 27 Komodo dragons to come out of a clutch of 28 eggs. Magill remembers the day he came out of his shell.
“I waited eight hours to get a picture of him,” Magill said. “I was the first one to see him.”
Magill said he decided right there that the zoo would start working with him to see if he could be an outreach animal. They waited for him to become “unhandleable.” It never happened.
Khaos’ first major appearance came when he was about 4 years old. Magill took him on Univision’s Sábado Gigante — a long-running variety show that ended in 2015 — to “dispel the myth about Komodo dragons,” Magill said.
Magill continued to take Khaos off zoo grounds, even taking him on a plane to New York.
“He was just a wonderfully laid-back lizard,” he said. “I have never known a lizard like that in my life.”