PLEASE VISIT OUR SPONSORS
TOP SECRET ANIMAL ATTACK FILES
from The San Francisco Chronicle
editor bitten at L.A. zoo
Komodo dragon attacks Bronstein
Sunday, June 10, 2001
Tyche Hendricks, Chronicle Staff Report
Chronicle executive editor Phil Bronstein was attacked by a Komodo dragon at the Los Angeles Zoo yesterday, suffering a serious foot injury.
Bronstein was in stable condition at a Los Angeles area hospital last night after surgery to reattach severed tendons and rebuild the casing of his big toe, which was crushed by the dragon's jaws, said his wife, actress Sharon Stone.
Bronstein and a zookeeper were inside the cage of the dragon, a 10-foot- long rare Indonesian lizard, on a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo when the creature attacked.
Bronstein was shoeless at the time of the attack, he told The Chronicle. He had been wearing white tennis shoes but because the dragon is fed white rats, the zookeeper suggested Bronstein remove his shoes so the dragon didn't mistake them for its next meal, he said.
The dragon, which has serrated teeth designed for ripping flesh, clamped down on Bronstein's foot and thrashed its body around, said Stone, who was watching from outside the cage.
Bronstein reached down and grabbed the jaws of the reptile and pried them open, she said, before he struggled to escape through the small feeding door of the cage, while the zookeeper fended the dragon off.
Because the dragon's teeth harbor several strains of septic bacteria, Bronstein was treated with antibiotics and will be monitored for possible infection. The dragon has been quarantined.
"We're very grateful for the professional care of the people at the hospital," said Stone. "And we certainly don't blame the people at the zoo."
The tour was a surprise early father's day gift for Bronstein, who had always wanted to see an endangered Komodo dragon up close, Stone said.
The dragons feed on small mammals in the wild and are aggressive by nature, said Los Angeles Zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca, although this particular creature was known for a milder temperament.
The zoo owns two Komodo dragons, which were confiscated from reptile smugglers, said La Marca.
Komodo dragons are reportedly worth up to $30,000 on the black market.
Protected as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the lizard is native only to Komodo Island and a few neighboring islands in Indonesia.
The lizard's teeth harbor bits of meat from previous meals, creating a residue that supports large numbers of bacteria. According to a March 1999 article in Scientific American magazine, researchers have found about 50 different bacterial strains, at least seven of which are highly septic, in the lizard's saliva.
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle
Tell a Friend about the Animal Attack Files