Komodo Dragon

Two fisherman tied their boat to a wharf and hurried up the street.
” I saw a dragon on Komodo Island!” one shouted.
“I saw it too!” the other shouted. ” There on the shore near where our boat was anchored. If you heard people talk about seeing a real, live dragon would you think they were making up a fairy tale?

A man named Douglas Burden was a naturalist, a person who tries to learn as much as he can about things that live and grow. He heard about what these man had said and he believed that they had told the truth. But there was only one way to find out for sure. He would have to go to the island where the dragons were said to live. He hoped he could bring some back for the world to see. If bring one-or more-back alive.

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And so Burden and his wife and a few friends sailed halfway around the world to the tiny island. Do you think Komodo Island looks like a place where dragons might live? Would you feel a little bit afraid if you were going to explore these cliffs and maybe find a dragon behind a rock somewhere? These explorers felt that way too. As they went ashore on the rocky island, they worried and wondered. Would their ropes and chains and wooden stakes that were to be built into dragon traps and cages be strong enough?

There were dragons on the island. They weren’t exactly like the dragons in fairy tales-the dragons that brave princes fought when they were trying to save princesses. But they were as much like dragons as any creature now living on the Earth. The Komodo dragons were really giant lizards-some of them nine feet long and weighing as much as two men. Their legs were short and as thick as tree trunks. Each paw had a set of claws like knife blades. Their huge jaws were rimmed with teeth that could rip like saws. Although they did not breath fire, the monsters had yellow forked tongue that flickered in and out of their mouths like flames. They belched a smell that was worse than smoke.

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Trapping these monsters alive that was hard and dangerous work. Sometimes the lizards attacked the men. Then the men had to kill them or risk being killed. The animals that were killed were loaded onto the ship. The two that were trapped alive were put into cages. When two live dragons were displayed at the Brooklyn Zoo in New York City people lined up for blocks and blocks to see them.That was more than 40 years ago.

There are no more live dragons anywhere except on the tiny faraway island of Komodo. There they still live. But you can see what they look like at the American Museum of a Natural History in New York City. They are stuffed and mounted in a huge glass case where they look very much alive.

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