London Zoo welcomes Komodo dragon called Khaleesi
London Zoo has welcomed its latest arrival, and Game of Thrones fans are sure to be impressed.
Khaleesi the Komodo Dragon, named after Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen, has moved to the zoo in time for May half-term visitors.
“We’re really pleased with how well Khaleesi is settling in at the zoo’s Attenborough Komodo Dragon House; a temperature-controlled biome designed to recreate the hot, rocky Indonesian islands where the species are found in the wild,” said London Zoo’s Dragon Keeper, Joe Capon, in a statement.
“Khaleesi is an alert, curious lizard, and has been busy exploring since her arrival – in particular, by digging some pretty impressive burrows on the sandy shoreline.”
She joined the London Zoo from Paignton Zoo in Devon on May 11, as part of the European Breeding Programme for the Endangered Species (EEP).
Komodo dragons are considered to be endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as they face threats from climate change and habitat loss.
It is estimated that there are no more than 1,400 Komodo dragons in the wild, as of 2021.
In the Komodos’ native Indonesia, the animal has been under a protection status since the 1990s, and The Komodo National Park was established in 1980.
However, 85 per cent of Komodo dragons’ habitat remains unprotected, according to the Komodo Survival Program, which means the animal faces threats like reduced prey (deer) and competition from feral dogs.
Komodo dragons also face the threat of being smuggled, leading the Indonesian government to close Komodo Island in January 2020 to prevent further thefts. The government discovered a smuggling ring which was planning to sell the dragons for £26,600 each.
Alongside Khaleesi’s arrival at London Zoo, ZSL conservationists are working to protect their native habitat, including by advising the palm oil industry on how to safely manage wildlife.
ZSL also supports a conservation project in Flores, run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, which monitors dragon populations.
The zoo renamed the Attenborough Komodo Dragon House after Sir David Attenborough for his 90th birthday in 2016.
The exhibit honours Sir David’s history with Komodo Dragons: in 1956, he and his crew were the first to ever capture the animals on camera, after locating them in Indonesia.