The presence of a large lizard, the Komodo dragon, in eastern Indonesia first came to the attention of Dutch authorities in 1912. Over the next thirty years these reptiles became one of the most desired celebrity species in the world for explorers to seek, zoos to display, and the public to imagine. From these experiences with captive Komodo lizards, a greater understanding of the behavior and morphology of the animal developed. This literature was shared in polycentric networks of science prior to the Second World War among zookeepers, explorers, and government officials, reflecting early efforts in the development of transnational knowledge of the biology of a unique species. This article is part of the “Crossroads of Indo–Pacific Environmental Histories” special issue of Pacific Historical Review.

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