Australia’s Perth Zoo is home to the Komodo dragon Raja. The species is the largest lizard in the world, growing up to 3 meters. But Raja first came to Perth Zoo in 2013 as a tiny baby. To commemorate his 7th birthday in August, zookeepers gave him a nice, relaxing bath.
“Splish-splash Raja’s taking a birthday bath!” the caption said.
The giant, scaley creature sticks out its long, thin tongue as a zookeeper drips water on him. She strokes his back with a rag and massages his head. Then finally, she brushes his gray and brown body before he slinks away.
The clip racked up 26,000 views on Instagram.
“What a great job you have,” one person said.
“I love him, I would wash him anytime. What a handsome guy!” some added.
“To the handlers and caretakers, well done. The dragon looked like he enjoyed that experience,” another wrote.
Zookeepers have special protocols for bathing Raja since Komodo dragons are dangerous. They have mouths filled with around 60 long, curved and serrated teeth. When a Komodo attacks its prey it will bite the belly, throat or legs first. Each bite releases venom from its jaw glands to send its prey into shock and stop its blood from clotting.
On another occasion, when the zoo’s media and communications officer Melissa Leo got the chance to bathe Raja as a baby, she remarked on how bathing creates an important bond.
“It’s not just about pampering the dragon,” Leo stated. “The interaction and training session helps build a rapport with Raja, so that when he grows to his full adult size our staff can safely work in with him to do any health checks and ensure he is in tip-top condition. It also helps ensure we have a good-natured and motivated lizard.”
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