Protecting beasts under threat

The Natural History Museum

Explore the stories behind the Fantastic Beasts™: The Wonder of Nature exhibition. Meet some of our planet's most vulnerable animals and hear from the remarkable people working to ensure we value and respect the creatures that share our world.

Occamy nestThe Natural History Museum

Newt Scamander™ protects and cares for fantastic beasts that are threatened, mistreated or misunderstood by other wizards.

In our world, human activity is endangering the future of many animals, with tens of thousands of species at risk of disappearing forever.

Now that you have encountered fantastic beasts in the wild, discover what we can do to save them.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

GraphornThe Natural History Museum

Graphorn

In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them™, Newt explains that he saved the wizarding world's last pair of Graphorns from extinction. Under his care, these horned, hump-backed beasts produce a new generation of baby Graphorns, giving hope for the future of this magical species.

'They’re the last breeding pair in existence. If I hadn't managed to rescue them, that could have been the end of Graphorns – forever.'
– Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them™ (film)

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

KākāpōThe Natural History Museum

Saving a species

Kākāpō (Strigops habroptila)

The kākāpō is a flightless, nocturnal parrot that was once found all over New Zealand. Today, like the magical Graphorn, only a small population remains.

KākāpōThe Natural History Museum

The kākāpō came close to extinction in the late twentieth century. This followed years of hunting by people and the cats, rats and stoats introduced to the islands.

KākāpōThe Natural History Museum

Conservationists moved all remaining birds to predator-free reserves in the 1980s, launching an intensive breeding programme to help save the species.

KākāpōThe Natural History Museum

Technologies that help

Over the past 25 years, conservationists have helped increase kākāpō numbers from 51 to over 200 birds. They use specially developed technologies to monitor the location and health of every animal.

Every kākāpō wears a radio transmitter like a miniature rucksack. These devices send scientists information about the bird's activities, such as mating and nesting.

Smart eggThe Natural History Museum

Researchers monitor each kākāpō's diet using electronically controlled feeding stations. A data logger gives some birds access to extra food by unlocking the smart hopper. The data logger also records their weight.

Conservationists remove kākāpō eggs from nests so they can be cared for and incubated safely. They leave smart eggs that make lifelike sounds in their place so that kākāpō mothers can prepare for the arrival of their chicks.

VaquitaThe Natural History Museum

Last of their kind

Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)

This is the skeleton of the world's smallest porpoise and one of the most endangered species on Earth.

Vaquitas live off the coast of Mexico, where they are often caught accidentally in illegal fishing nets. Like Graphorn populations, vaquita populations have fallen to very low numbers. Conservationists have tried everything from captive breeding to redesigning fishing gear in order to keep this species from disappearing.

ZouwuThe Natural History Museum

Protecting dangerous beasts

'We should be protecting these creatures instead of killing them.'
– Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them™ (film)

Zouwu

The Zouwu is a cat-like magical creature the size of an elephant. Incredibly powerful and fast, it can travel over 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) in a day.

J K Rowling's inspiration for the Zouwu came from Chinese classic texts, where it is sometimes called a zouyu.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Zouwu cat toyThe Natural History Museum

Newt rescues a Zouwu from the streets of Paris in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald™, after it unknowingly put itself and those around it in danger.

With two shakes of a feathery toy, Newt soothed the Zouwu and, by dropping the toy into his case, guided it to safety and later treated its wounds.

Caspian tigerThe Natural History Museum

Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata)

As forests shrink and cities expand, large predators such as tigers are encountering people ever more frequently. As with the Zouwu in the wizarding world, these confrontations can be dangerous for humans and big cats alike.

Caspian tigers were once found across Central Asia. This subspecies was driven to extinction in the 1970s as humans hunted them and replaced their habitat with farms and cities. For the world's remaining tigers to survive, we need to find new ways of living peacefully alongside big cats.

Some tiger populations are increasing, but they now exist in only 4% of the areas where they once lived. Total tiger numbers fell from around 100,000 individuals in 1910 to around 3,900 in 2016.

Hungarian horntail dragonThe Natural History Museum

Dragon dangers

Newt describes Hungarian Horntails as supposedly the most dangerous of the ten dragon breeds. Known to feed on humans, they can breathe fire up to 15 metres (50 feet).

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Dragon headThe Natural History Museum

To keep people safe, some dragons in the wizarding world are kept hidden in special reserves. Occasionally they fly outside these areas in search of prey, putting them at risk of conflict with humans.

Hungarian Horntail by Jim Kay (born 1974)The Natural History Museum

Hungarian Horntail

Artist Jim Kay shows the Hungarian Horntail in its full fire-breathing glory in this unfinished painting for the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™.

The scene shows a defensive Horntail guarding a golden egg. Harry was tasked with snatching this egg in the first challenge of the Triwizard Tournament.

Credits: Story

For more information and to book tickets to the exhibition, visit the Museum's website.

To find out more about the Wizarding World, visit WizardingWorld.com

WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s21)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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