Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Tuatara ambassadors are ready for the spotlight

The tuatara is an ancient reptile with three eyes and no penis. Its ancestors once walked with dinosaurs and it is often called a “living fossil”.

We call it a “living treasure”.

These strange features are just a few reasons why Zealandia is celebrating this unique species during Tuatara February. By training two ambassador animals to help explain their strange natural history, visitors can get up close and personal or name one of these special creatures.

After being brought to Zealandia from Southland Museum, the two tuatara have been in training to help them feel more at ease in human company and comfortable being handled.
“The animals are brought out for short periods at a time so they don’t get stressed. But it’s long enough for people to understand how special they are,” said tuatara handler, Ron Goudswaard.

"The male is quite relaxed, but the female is still a little nervous. It certainly helps to have warm hands to make them feel at ease."

This is the first time that Zealandia has trained tuatara to interact with the public.

Visitors can expect to learn more about tuatara during a brief talk by Zealandia guides.

“It’s a family-friendly event and a very special opportunity. We also have a Children’s Trail, colouring competition and an opportunity to name one of the ambassadors.”

“Having the chance to work so closely with them is a privilege and watching children go from being slightly frightened to absolutely awestruck makes it very worthwhile.”

It is hoped that Tuatara February will increase awareness about tuatara conservation and research in the sanctuary to contribute to their ongoing survival as a species.


• Tuatara are a rare reptile found only in New Zealand.

• Tuatara were extinct from the mainland since the late 1700’s until they were released at Zealandia in 2005.

Why are tuatara important?

• Tuatara are the only living member of the Sphenodontia order. Their ancestors were well represented by many species during the age of the dinosaurs. This makes them important in understanding reptile evolution.

• Tuatara reproduction is affected by temperature. The temperature that eggs experience during incubation will determine the sex of the hatchlings. Scientists suspect that global warming could cause the extinction of tuatara. Once a population has more males than females, not enough young can be produced to replace old animals.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Trade: NZ Trade Deficit Widens To A Record In September

Oct. 27 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's monthly trade deficit widened to a record in September as meat exports dropped to their lowest level in more than three years. More>>


Animal Welfare: Cruel Practices Condemned By DairyNZ Chief

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

Tim says the video released today by Farmwatch shows some footage of transport companies and their workers, as well as some unacceptable behaviour by farmers of dragging calves. More>>


Postnatal Depression: 'The Thief That Steals Motherhood' - Alison McCulloch

Post-natal depression is a sly and cruel illness, described by one expert as ‘the thief that steals motherhood’, it creeps up on its victims, hiding behind the stress and exhaustion of being a new parent, catching many women unaware and unprepared. More>>


DIY: Kiwi Ingenuity And Masking Tape Saves Chick

Kiwi ingenuity and masking tape has saved a Kiwi chick after its egg was badly damaged endangering the chick's life. The egg was delivered to Kiwi Encounter at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua 14 days ago by a DOC worker with a large hole in its shell and against all odds has just successfully hatched. More>>


International Trade: Key To Lead Mission To India; ASEAN FTA Review Announced

Prime Minister John Key will lead a trade delegation to India next week, saying the pursuit of a free trade agreement with the protectionist giant is "the primary reason we're going" but playing down the likelihood of early progress. More>>



MYOB: Digital Signatures Go Live

From today, Inland Revenue will begin accepting “digital signatures”, saving businesses and their accountants a huge amount of administration time and further reducing the need for pen and paper in the workplace. More>>

Oil Searches: Norway's Statoil Quits Reinga Basin

Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil company, has given up oil and gas exploration in Northland's Reinga Basin, saying the probably of a find was 'too low'. More>>


Modern Living: Auckland Development Blowouts Reminiscent Of Run Up To GFC

The collapse of property developments in Auckland is "almost groundhog day" to the run-up of the global financial crisis in 2007/2008 as banks refuse to fund projects due to blowouts in construction and labour costs, says John Kensington, the author of KPMG's Financial Institutions Performance Survey. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news