- Exhibits & Animals
- IMAX Movies
- Visit the Aquarium
- Fun & Learning
- Long Island Sound
The re-energized focus on Long Island Sound's story is obvious in the colorfully redesigned main hall, which has been renamed Newman's Own Hall in celebration of a $1.2 million grant from Newman's Own Foundation."
– The Norwalk Citizen
The exhibit stars the black dragon and other animals that have the word dragon in their names. The black dragon is a water-monitor lizard that has a “melanistic” gene that makes it all black. (Similar to what makes an albino animal all white.) You won’t find one in any other U.S. aquarium or zoo; all other known black dragons are privately owned.
Besides highlighting the unique characteristics of these animals, the exhibit explores the facts and fictions about mythological dragons and their roles in cultures throughout time. Guests are encouraged to find similarities between the displayed live creatures and the fire-breathing dragons of lore.
Entry into “Dragons! Real or Myth?” is free with Aquarium admission.
The dragons are on exhibit in the the same area as the Meerkats.
This very rare black dragon is a melanistic form of the Asian water monitor lizard. Melanism means that its body produces an overabundance of the pigment melanin, making the animal nearly solid black. (It’s the oppostite of albinism.) Black dragons can grow to become very large muscular lizards, averaging 5-6 feet in length and weighing over 60 pounds!
RANGE: South and Southeast Asia
SIZE: Adults can get up to 6 feet tip to tail (their tail is about 1.5 the body length)
WEIGHT: Adults can weigh between 40-60 lbs
LIFESPAN: 15-25 years
You might be surprised to see this dragon jumping from a high branch into the water! It uses its “sailfin” like a sailboard to help stabilize when escaping from predators. While both males and females have sailfins on their tails, only males produce the large fins and crests that run down the neck and back.
RANGE: Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines
DIET: Omnivorous (plants and animals)
SIZE: Large adult males reach up to 4 ft in length. Females are usually a third smaller than males
LIFESPAN: Can live up to 10-15 years in wild and up to 25 years in human care.
This dragon opens its frill when startled to make itself look bigger and fiercer, but would prefer to run away, which it does on its hind legs! Females lay 8 to 23 tiny eggs in an underground nest, and hatchlings emerge fully independent and capable of hunting and utilizing their frill.
RANGE: Northern Australian and southern New Guinea
DIET: Mainly insects but will eat some fruits and vegetables (omnivorous)
SIZE: Males range between 2 and 3 feet. Females are about two-thirds smaller than males
LIFESPAN: 10 years in human care, unknown in the wild
The weedy sea dragon is a very delicate fish found in Australia’s southern coast. They live in coral reefs and seaweed beds, to which they are perfectly camouflaged. The weedy sea dragon is the only member of its genus, but is closely related to seahorses. Like seahorses, male weedy sea dragons carry the developing eggs and “give birth” to the babies. But instead of a pouch, they have a spongy patch under the tail where the females deposit the eggs.
RANGE: Australian waters of the eastern Indian Ocean and the south western Pacific Ocean
DIET: Tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton
SIZE: up to 45 cm
LIFESPAN: up to 10 years in the wild and in human care.
Bearded dragons are built to withstand the extreme harshness of the desert they call home in Australia. They can tolerate temperatures as low as 55ºF and as high as 120ºF. When angered, the bearded dragon will puff up the spiky scales on its chin and neck, which give the appearance of a beard.
RANGE: central Australian deserts
DIET: a healthy balance of insects, fruits and vegetables (omnivorous)
SIZE: can grow up to 16-24 inches long
LIFESPAN: 7-10 years
These dragons from Southeast Asia are also called green pricklenapes because of the spines that run down the back of their neck. They perch high in trees and change colors based on their mood! They show a lot of yellow when sleeping and get very dark when stressed. The large throat pouch changes from rust color to yellow when extended.
RANGE: Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam
DIET: Carnivorous or insectivorous
SIZE: 10-14 inches
LIFESPAN: 10-20 years
The Chinese water dragon occupies a similar niche as the Australian water dragon but is found from China through Malaysia. The male dragons grow large prehistoric-looking spikes down their neck, back and tail. These dragons communicate with one another using head bobbing and arm movements.
RANGE: China and Indochina
DIET: Insects with some fruits and vegetables
SIZE: males are larger than females, can reach up to 2-3 ft in length
LIFESPAN: up to 15 years
Although it’s looking fierce - showing his teeth with open mouth - this eel simply needs to keep its mouth open to breathe. They live in coral and rocky environments and are highly predatory. The dragon moray can grow up to 3 feet long and preys primarily on fish, crustaceans and cephalopods (octopus and squid).
RANGE: Hawaii to southern Japan and southward to central Polynesia, or the Indo-Pacific region
DIET: Mainly live food but anything it can get its mouth around
SIZE: up to 36 inches
LIFESPAN: 10-30 years
Australian water dragons live in tropical habitats close to a river or lake (riparian zones) in eastern Australia. Locals say they can hear the splashing of these lizards as they dart into the water at any sign of disturbance. Once in the water, they can remain submerged for over an hour!
RANGE: Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria)
DIET: Insectivorous as juveniles, and omnivores as adults
SIZE: Males are larger than females; males are 2-2.5 ft long
LIFESPAN: Up to 20 years in human care
First popularized by the comical sidekick Timon in Disney’s “The Lion King” and then celebrated in the Animal Planet television series “Meerkat Manor” (2005-2009), meerkats are members of the mongoose family that live in social “mobs” or “gangs” in burrows in the Kalahari Desert, in the southern African nations of Botswana and South Africa.
No mere cats, meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are fascinating for living in structured but cooperative societies, including a foraging strategy where adults take turns standing guard upright on their hind feet, watching for predators, while the others eat.
“These are active animals with very charismatic faces and highly interesting social structures, so they are a lot of fun for visitors to watch,” said John Lenzycki, the Aquarium’s curator of animals.
The exhibit features six sibling meerkats – three males, three females – born in the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their Maritime Aquarium habitat offers windows into their underground burrows, so all meerkat activity is within view. A viewing bubble even lets young visitors stand up right among the meerkats.
Meerkats get a pumpkin treat. Watch the video.