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This Fire-Breathing Dragon Sculpture Puts Khaleesi's Beasts to Shame

A folk legend comes to life at this Russian safari park.

by Beckett Mufson
Sep 28 2017, 9:30pm

Images courtesy Kudykin Mountain

About 250 miles south of Moscow, in the heart of a local theme park, stands Russia's answer to Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion—a massive, three-headed dragon sculpture that can actually spit out a bunch of fire.

Although the sculpture at the Kudykin Mountain Safari Park, which spouts out mechanical roaring noises and gouts of flame, may spark flashbacks of the dragonpit in King's Landing, the three-headed serpent isn't Russia's shrine to Game of Thrones. Kudykin Mountain curator Julia Uvarkeena tells VICE it's a monument to a beast from Slavic folklore called Zmey Gorynych designed by a Ukranian artist known for his life-sized creations of fairytale creatures, Vladimir Kolesnikov.

The design appears to be similar to the 30-foot-long beast HBO trotted out in Sydney back in 2015 for the season five premiere of Game of Thrones. According to Sky News, the replica of Drogon spouted fire from a tube embedded under its tongue, so Zmey's three heads might use something similar.

"We wanted something authentic for the park and fascinating at the same time," Uvarkeena says. "Now our Zmey Gorynych is firing every weekend and we're expecting him [to fire] also during New Year holidays."

The three-headed metal and concrete monster has been under construction since 2015, but fired off its first dragon breath last summer. Now, complete with massive new wings, the statue joins the park's farm animals, carnival performances, and a life-size Trojan horse.

Russia isn't the only country with massive, tourist-attracting dragon statues. In the US, Ricardo Breceda's metal dragon-serpent hybrid writhes atop a hill in Arizona's Anza Borrego desert, and Florida's Gulfstream Park hosts a bronze and steel Pegasus and Dragon engaged in battle. Unlike the Zmey Gorynych, though, neither of those wyverns can dazzle their visitors with flames.

Check out pictures and video of the dragon and its breath in action below, then try not to plan a spontaneous end-of-summer vacation to Russia.

Learn more about Kudykin Mountain on its official website .

Update 9/29: This post has been updated to include comments from Kudykin Mountain Safari Park's curator, Julia Uvarkeena.