How to treat your dragon…

Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo offered their best felizardtations to Komodo dragon Ganas this week - at a special birthday feast.

Ganas opens his birthday presents

Ganas, who will be 10 years old on Saturday 3 February, was given a meaty treat of beef fillet to commemorate the big day, with the specially wrapped gift being wolfed down by the 40kg lizard. 

ZSL Dragon keeper Joe Capon explains: “Komodo dragons have adapted to go months without food in the wild, and we replicate their eating habits here at ZSL London Zoo, which means Ganas’ last lunch was 14 days ago. 

“Ganas gets fed a big meaty meal around twice a month, alongside some smaller enriching treats in between, which we hide around his enclosure - this encourages him to use his incredible sense of smell to sniff out his food as he would his natural prey.”

Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) use their tongues to smell instead of their noses. “Like snakes, they flick their forked tongues out to taste the air, before drawing them back to the roof of their mouths, where special receptors called Jacobsons analyse microscopic molecules in the air. They can sniff out a potential meal from up to six miles away.”

Ganas moved from Randers Zoo in Denmark to ZSL London Zoo in 2015 to take up residence in the Attenborough Komodo Dragon House, where he lives alongside the Zoo’s eight Giant Galapagos tortoises. 

Named after the island of Komodo in their native Indonesia, the dragons - the largest and heaviest lizards in the world - have survived on Earth for millions of years, but are now classified as Endangered by the IUCN due to habitat loss.  

“Ganas has been with us for three years and is a firm favourite with both our visitors and keepers,” said Joe. “Fresh raw meat might not be what we’d want to find when unwrapping our birthday pressies, but Ganas was very happy with his gifts.” 

Book tickets to ZSL London Zoo 

More news from ZSL

Squirrel monkeys help to put up bunting at ZSL London Zoo

Squirrel monkeys and gorillas celebrate start of new Travel the World experience at London Zoo.

squirrel monkey with baby on back

Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo are celebrating a mini baby boom, after welcoming two newborn squirrel monkeys to the lively troop in one week – just...

Galapagos tortoises Polly, Priscilla and Dolly at ZSL London Zoo

Galápagos Islands come to ZSL London Zoo this August at new home for Zoo’s giant tortoises