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Chameleons very cool for school!

5 August 2005

Chameleons very cool for school!

Some serious fun could be had in the classroom with 360 vision, a tongue double the length of one's body, and the mood-induced ability to change colour and virtually "disappear".

Auckland Zoo is hoping these amazing chameleon characteristics will help spark the curiosity and creativity of school students throughout New Zealand, and encourage them to enter its 'Chameleons are Cool' banner competition.

Open to students from new entrant through to secondary school level, the 2005 Auckland Zoo Banner Competition challenges students to investigate this truly amazing, slightly bizarre animal, and then use their creativity to design a banner based on their learnings.

"Along with getting students interested in the environment, this is an opportunity to encourage students to reach for excellence," says Auckland Zoo education service manager, Leigh Wither.

"The main winner and runners-up will not only receive monetary prizes, but also the mana of having their design turned into banners to be displayed throughout the zoo over summer, our busiest time of year," says Leigh Wither.

Chameleons are known as the colour wizards of the natural world, so they lend themselves to creative interpretation. Sponsors of the 'Chameleons are Cool’ 2005 Auckland Zoo Banner Competition, PMP Digital Limited, are hopeful of some great winning entries to reproduce.

“We are hoping that the banners really push our capabilities and technology in the area of large format printing, and our expectation is that there will be some exciting and challenging efforts from all schools,” says Mark Campbell, general manager, PMP Digital.

“Our association with this initiative is driven by a solid commitment to the efforts of Auckland Zoo in all aspects, and the infectious ‘fun’ that occurs as a result. We are eagerly anticipating some wonderful, bold creative, and the sight of all of the winning banners displayed around the zoo!”

Auckland Zoo has one species of chameleon, Jackson's (from East Africa), which isn't currently classed as endangered, but many other species are.

"As students will discover, habitat destruction and the continuing illegal pet trade in chameleons is the cause of their drastic drop in numbers," says Leigh Wither.

"This is a good opportunity for students to look at what protections are in place in New Zealand for our native lizards, and see how we compare to other countries."

Entry criteria: Designs need to be portrait, and must be no larger than 375mm in height x 125mm wide. Three colours (in addition to black and white) can be used.

Closing date for entries: Friday 23 September 2005.

FACT FILE

Home: Chameleons are naturally found in Africa, the Middle East, India, Madagascar, and more recently, Hawaii. There are over 100 species of chameleons, with over half of these living in Madagascar.

Masters of disguise: Chameleons are able to change their colour in response to light, temperature, and their mood.

Tongue twister: The tongue can be up to twice the length of a chameleon's body, and has a sticky end to enable it to catch insects.

All-seeing!: Chameleons' eyes move independently, enabling 360 degree vision without this lizard even needing to turn its head.

ENDS

About Auckland Zoo:

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 is a member of both the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria (ARAZPA) and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA).

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