KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Zoo Knoxville is mourning the death of one of their star animals: a Komodo dragon named Khaleesi.
The zoo said Khaleesi was found dead Monday morning from an apparent infection in her reproductive tract.
According to the zoo, she had recently shown behavior that indicated she was carrying eggs and was taken to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a CT scan on Friday to confirm she was carrying eggs.
The zoo said she required some assistance to recover from the anesthesia needed to do the scan, but appeared to be rebounding on Saturday. The zoo said they were closely monitoring her alongside a vet team, but found her dead during an early morning check on Monday.
The zoo said initial necropsy results indicated she died from an infection in her reproductive tract that was not picked up on the CT scan.
“Khaleesi was an icon of the zoo,” said Phil Colclough, Director of Animal Care, Conservation and Education. “Despite being a ferocious-looking dragon, she was incredibly gentle, and was a powerful ambassador who inspired our guests to learn about reptiles and reptile conservation. Her intelligence and charisma were obvious and she was beloved by our zoo staff and guests alike. This is a painful loss for all of us.”
Khaleesi, named after the popular 'Game of Thrones' character, hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo in 2010. She came to Zoo Knoxville in 2011 and made her public debut in March 2012 after a brief stay at Zoo Atlanta, and was the first Komodo dragon to call Zoo Knoxville home.