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Chameleons uncovered at Auckland Zoo


28 November 2005

Best in disguise: Chameleons uncovered at Auckland Zoo

Five classroom created chameleons go on display at Auckland Zoo in whats believed to be a New Zealand first.

These stunning and unique reptiles will remain on view to the public throughout the summer.

Originating from Tauranga, Wanganui, Rotorua, and Auckland, they are the five winning artistic creations of the Zoo's 2005 'Chameleons are Cool' Banner Competition, which was open to primary and secondary school students throughout New Zealand.

Over 600 entries from budding artists from Kaitaia to Stewart Island were received by the Zoo's Education Service. The competition was run to spark children's creativity and interest in wildlife and the environment, and also encourage students to reach for excellence.

Thirteen-year-old art lover Ruby Lee of Tauranga Intermediate was judged the Supreme Winner for her entry "Three Wishes". Featuring three chameleons - the best from a large number of draft drawings, the painting's title, says Ruby, is her wish that these reptiles will not become extinct.

Her classmate, Saekye Oh, was one of four runners-up for his very distinctive chameleon, "The Dotted C". Louisa Hormann of Wanganui Intermediate, also a Year 8 student, and

this year's winner of Auckland Fine Art Supplies' art competition, "Uniquely New Zealand", was also a runner-up for her "Master of Disguise".

The competition’s two youngest runners-up were Daley McDonnell, aged seven, from Rotakawa School in Rotorua for "Cute Chameleon", and six-year-old Liam Powell of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Epsom, Auckland, for his "Striped Chameleon". Each winner receives a monetary prize, as well as the mana of having their banner on display at the Zoo.

"We're absolutely delighted by the enthusiasm for the competition, and artistically there were a lot of truly outstanding entries,” says Auckland Zoo Education Service Manager Leigh Wither.

“The five winning entries all differ widely in colour and design and brilliantly reflect chameleons' reputation as the colour wizards of the natural world."

"Thanks to our sponsors, PMP Digital, we will have the five winning banners displayed throughout the Zoo over our busy summer period for everyone to enjoy," says Leigh Wither.

A further five students were also highly commended. They were Jessica Mulder (Year 10) of Elam Christian College in Greenmount, Auckland; Emma Eccleton (Year 2) of Our Lady of Sacred Heart in Epsom, Auckland; and Year 10 students Rachel Millns, Jemila Heffernan and Sophie Petley, all from Paraparaumu College.


- There are over 100 species of chameleons in the world. Over half live in Madagascar. The rest are naturally found in Africa, the Middle East, India, and more recently, Hawaii.
- Auckland Zoo holds the Jackson's chameleon from East Africa.
- The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has identified eight chameleon species at various levels of extinction risk on the IUCN Red List. The most critically endangered is the Smith's dwarf chameleon from South Africa.
- Threats to these species are loss of habitat for these arboreal reptiles, and collection for the illegal pet trade.

Auckland Zoo is home to the largest collection of native and exotic wildlife species in New Zealand (over 1000 animals and 178 species) and attracts over half a million visitors annually. It is becoming increasingly well known nationally and internationally through the award-winning television programme, 'The Zoo'. At the heart of all Auckland Zoo's work and activities is its MISSION: "to focus the Zoo’s resources to benefit conservation and provide exciting visitor experiences which inspire and empower people to take positive action for wildlife and the environment". Auckland Zoo’s Charitable Trust is currently fundraising for the establishment of a New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine, to be built at the Zoo in 2006. Auckland Zoo is a member of both the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria (ARAZPA) and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).

© Scoop Media

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