Game of Thrones has had a great impact on the cultural landscape, the popular status of grimdark fantasy, and the ongoing debate about what constitutes a “spoiler.” But possibly the most important thing the show has done is help save the Icelandic goat!
Icelandic goats are a particular subspecies, made unique over centuries of selective island-enforced breeding practices. They are either white and horned, or brown and hornless, and they are staggeringly cute. However, because goats are not as popular as cattle and sheep, they’ve been edging closer and closer to extinction over the last century. The goats were nearly dealt an irreversible setback when Haafell farm, home to half of Iceland’s goat population, was threatened with foreclosure. But then a dragon swooped in.
During the long process of appeals on behalf of the farm, some of Haafell’s goats appeared on Game of Thrones, and one scene in particular caught people’s attention. Drogon, the youngest and most cantankerous of Daenarys Targaryen’s children, attacks a farm in the Season 4 episode, “The Laws of Gods and Men.” He glides in and burns a lovely little white goat to coal. That goat’s name is Casanova, he’s a resident of Haafell Farm, and he was clearly born for stardom:
Fans of the show, learning of Haafell’s imminent foreclosure, rallied around the farm and launched a campaign to raise funds on their behalf. Now the farm is secure, and the future of the Icelandic goat is getting brighter and brighter! Author Justin Taylor recently visited the farm and returned with a report on goats and Icelandic culture. But more importantly, he got to hold a baby goat:
She gave us a baby goat to hold and we were each shocked at its utter ease and stillness in our arms. “Give it a few minutes,” she said, “and he’ll fall asleep.” He did. We also met the famous Casanova, who pranced and preened around a pen he has all to himself, as if he knew he’d not only saved the farm but become a cult figure in his own right.
If you want to learn more about Haafell Farm (or book a tour if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Iceland), check out their Facebook page!