SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Chronicle executive editor Phil Bronstein underwent foot surgery after being attacked by a Komodo dragon at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Bronstein was on a private tour of the zoo Saturday when he entered the Indonesian lizard’s cage. The zookeeper had asked him to remove his white tennis shoes to keep the 5-foot-long reptile from mistaking them for the white rats it is fed, Bronstein told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The reptile attacked Bronstein’s shoeless foot, crushing his big toe while thrashing its body around, said Bronstein’s wife, actress Sharon Stone, who witnessed the attack outside the cage.
Bronstein was able to pry open the reptile’s mouth and escape through a small feeding door in the cage while the zookeeper distracted the dragon, Stone said.
Bronstein was in stable condition Sunday at a Los Angeles area hospital after undergoing surgery Saturday to reattach severed tendons and to rebuild his big toe that was crushed by the dragon’s jaws, Stone told the Chronicle.
He is expected to remain in the hospital until Monday, said Chronicle spokesman Joe Brown.
“He sounded in good spirits,” Brown said Sunday. “He did say he’s fated not have a boring life.”
The tour was arranged as a Father’s Day surprise for Bronstein, who had always wanted to see a Komodo dragon up close.
“We’re very grateful for the professional care of the people at the hospital,” Stone said. “And we certainly don’t blame the people at the zoo.”
The endangered dragons are not venomous, but are considered poisonous because several strains of septic bacteria are found in their teeth and saliva, said Los Angeles Zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca.
Bronstein was given antibiotics and will be monitored for infections. The dragon was not injured in the incident.
The aggressive lizard, which is known to kill members of its own species, is native only to Komodo Island and a few neighboring islands in Indonesia. It can grow up to 12 feet and weigh 300 pounds.