With razor sharp teeth and toxic saliva that can fell a buffalo, ZSL London Zoo's Komodo dragon Ganas is a formidable predator.
Come and get face to face with our dragon prowling his state-of-the-art dragon's lair, and enjoy panoramic views through an unbroken sweep of more than 20 metres of dragon-proof glass.
Ganas' home has been naturally landscaped to mimic a dry river bed, complete with lush vegetation and sounds of Indonesian birds.
Komodo dragons are rated as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Conserving the species
There are only a few thousands Komodo dragons left in the wild. The biggest threat to dragons is loss of their habitat, which is mostly due to human disturbance, including slash and burn agriculture.
Dragons are also in decline due to their prey disappearing. Humans compete with them to hunt deer and other animals that the dragons need to eat to survive.
ZSL supports a conservation project in Flores that is run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
This project maintains and protects two reserves where there are still Komodo dragon populations, working with local people to monitor the dragons there.
A new name for a dragon’s den
The dragon exhibit at ZSL London Zoo was renamed after renowned broadcaster Sir David Attenborough at an official ceremony on 9 August 2016 in celebration of his 90th birthday.
As well as marking the internationally wildlife expert’s milestone birthday, the newly named exhibit celebrates his long-standing history with ZSL London Zoo and Komodo dragons.
60 years ago, in 1956, Sir David and his team were the first crew to ever capture Komodo dragons on camera, while filming for the iconic BBC series ‘Zoo Quest for a Dragon’ - in which Sir David sought to locate the amazing creatures in their native Indonesia, in partnership with ZSL London Zoo. Never intending to be in front of the camera, Sir David’s career was launched with the first series of Zoo Quest, when he stepped in as presenter in the place of ZSL London Zoo’s then curator of reptiles, Jack Lester, who had unfortunately fallen ill.
“Sir David Attenborough has had a profound impact on all of us here at the Zoological Society of London, as well as inspiring millions of animal lovers around the world" said Zoological Society of London’s Director General Ralph Armond.
“Sir David’s rich history with ZSL is something we’re incredibly proud of, from his ground-breaking TV series filmed at our Zoos to becoming an honorary Fellow of the Society, and we wanted to celebrate his 90th year with a meaningful acknowledgment.
“Komodo dragons were first introduced to the British public by Sir David 60 years ago, on BBC’s iconic series ‘Zoo Quest for a Dragon’, so we felt it was a perfectly fitting tribute to name this exhibit in his honour.”
Razor-edged teeth, long sharp claws, scaly skin and a huge muscular tail make ZSL London Zoo’s newest arrival an enthralling sight to behold.
Ganas, a seven-year-old male Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) has moved to the UK from Randers Zoo in Denmark to take up residence at ZSL London Zoo’s ‘Land of the Giants’ exhibit.
Native to Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands, and named after the island of ‘Komodo’, the dragons, which are the largest and heaviest lizards in the world, have survived on Earth for millions of years but are now classified as ‘Endangered’ due to competition with humans for their habitat.
Able to eat up to 80 percent of their body weight in one feed, Komodo dragons will target a variety of animals, from pigs to huge water buffalo, and rely on camouflage to patiently wait for the perfect moment to ambush their prey.
Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo will replicate the wild eating patterns of a Komodo dragon when it comes to feeding Ganas, hiding food around his enclosure, and encouraging him to use his keen sense of smell to sniff it out.
With a name meaning ‘fierce’ in Bahasa Indonesian, Ganas’ keepers are getting to know the personality of the giant monitor lizard, and they have already seen a positive response to his new training sessions.
Deputy team leader of ZSL’s herpetology team Iri Gill said: “Ganas is a really exciting new arrival here at ZSL London Zoo and we’re really enjoying getting to know his character.
“He’s really eager to get going when it’s time for his training and enrichment here at the Zoo, which involves rewarding him with his favourite snacks when he responds to a target – we use a coloured ball on the end of a stick.
“This means that if we ever need to move Ganas to a different area of his enclosure, weigh him, or give him a health-check, he will happily walk to where he needs to be or get on to the scales himself as he knows there’s a treat waiting for him at the end.”
Already more than five and a half feet (1.75metres) long, and weighing 29kg, Ganas could eventually grow to ten feet long and weigh more than 136kg (300lbs).