The exhibit "Lizards and the Komodo King" at the Shedd Aquarium continues to wow visitors and Faust, the Komodo Dragon, often takes center stage.
But time is running out to see him. Faust is at the Shedd only through Labor Day. Senior Aquarist James Clark, 39, of Chicago, handles Faust’s daily care. He spoke to Chicago Parent about his life working with such an astounding creature.
What is a typical day at work like for you? "My day starts at 7 a.m. The first task of the morning is to check on all of the animals and exhibits under my care. Before 9 a.m. we prepare the exhibit for the upcoming day by cleaning windows, sprucing up habitats, removing poo, checking temperatures and humidities, removing food dishes and refilling water dishes. Every day at 9:30 we enter Faust’s exhibit to water the plants, remove any waste, check Faust for any problems and to rake the sand in the exhibit."
Do you ever feel like a parent to the lizards? "I feel more like a caregiver than a parent. I don’t get to tell them to clean up their room or help them with their homework, but I do make their meals for them and take them to see the veterinarian for routine check ups or when they are ill."
What do you feed Faust to make sure he doesn’t get too fat? "We feed Faust between 1 to 5 pounds of food a week. Usually it is in the form of 1-pound rats that have been humanely euthanized and then frozen. We thaw them out like you would a steak or a chicken the day before a feed."
What got you interested in this field? "My father got me interested in aquariums when I was about 10 years old. I continue to keep aquaria at home to this day."
Do you have kids? "I do not have any kids, but my niece and nephew really get a kick out of telling their friends what I do for a career."