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Zoo helps save Grand and Otago Skinks

Wellington Zoo helps save Grand and Otago Skinks from possible extinction

Otago Skink

In partnership with the Department of Conservation, Wellington Zoo is caring for a population of critically endangered western Grand and Otago Skinks, as part of a project aiming to increase their numbers.

A group of these rare reptiles were recently removed from their habitat near Wanaka, and arrived at Wellington Zoo in February to be quarantined. Here they received health checks – including physical exams, diagnostic testing and sexing – from the veterinary team in The Nest Te Kōhanga, Wellington Zoo’s animal hospital.
Otago Skinks are New Zealand's largest lizard species. They are closely related to the Grand Skink but are the larger of the two species, growing up to 300mm (nose to tail tip) in length. Both skinks are unique to the Otago region and are two of New Zealand's rarest reptiles, with a threat status of nationally critical – the same as the Kākāpō.
The skinks are now ready to go to other wildlife breeding organisations throughout New Zealand, and will make room for another group of twenty to be quarantined at Wellington Zoo this week.

And some of these endangered lizards will also remain at Wellington Zoo.

“Once the second group have completed their quarantine period, we will house eight pairs at Wellington Zoo, made up of both Grand and Otago Skinks,” said Amanda Tiffin, Wellington Zoo Life Sciences Manager.

“By taking them into our care we can help increase the numbers of these western skinks by breeding them, then releasing their offspring back into protected sites in Otago.”

Wellington Zoo has had previous breeding success, with three Grand Skinks born in February 2013 – a first for zoos in New Zealand.

About Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo is New Zealand's first Zoo, established in 1906, and is Wellington’s oldest conservation organisation. Home to over 500 native and exotic animals, Wellington Zoo became a charitable trust in 2003.

Wellington Zoo became the world’s first carboNZero certified zoo in May 2013.

Wellington Zoo is an accredited member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia and a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


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