A rare Komodo dragon plunged to her death while scaling a wall to reach her mate, London Zoo confirmed yesterday.
The Zoological Society of London, which hoped that Nina, 10, and her mate Raja, six, would be a major attraction and help save the species, has launched an inquiry. Scaling the wall in her £1menclosure was "both spontaneous and entirely out of character" behaviour, ZSL said.
Nina, which was 6.5ft long and weighed 44lbs, died of internal bleeding on Wednesday. She was injured after scrambling up a dividing wall, which ranges from 7.2ft to 8.2ft high, and falling into Raja's section.
Earlier she had climbed the wall but keepers using brooms and chunks of meat coaxed her down.
The pair arrived at the zoo last month amid great publicity. It was hoped they would be introduced later this year and possibly start breeding. London Zoo insisted the Komodo house was completed to the highest specifications.