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Fifth Baby Tuatara Found At Museum Site

After a week and a half of extensive monitoring at Invercargill’s museum demolition site, a fifth baby tuatara has been recovered.

Last week, demolition of the former museum was paused as four baby tuatara were unexpectedly discovered, alive and well, in the former tuatara enclosure.

Council Parks Performance Manager Kate Gough said after careful exploration and monitoring, including thermal imaging and close examination of burrows in the former enclosure, one more baby tuatara was recovered last Friday.

“We’re confident that we have completed a full and comprehensive inspection over the past week and a half and this was the last baby hiding,” she said.

Invercargill’s resident tuatara were shifted from their museum home in February 2023 to make way for Invercargill City Council’s project to demolish and rebuild the museum.

It is likely that there were hidden tuatara eggs that were yet to hatch at that time.

Gough said the baby tuatara were currently in a temporary home within the new tuatara facility at Queens Park and would be on display for the public on Saturday.

“While we have yet to determine the future home for these unexpected new additions, we are excited to give the public the opportunity to see them at our opening event on Saturday.”

The five baby tuatara range in size from 110mm to 120mm, and weigh from 5g to 9g, and are likely less than 12 months old.

The juvenile tuatara were discovered in the area where the Brothers Island tuatara were housed, and these particular tuatara were not thought to be capable of breeding as they had not done previously during the time there had been a breeding programme in place, Council Parks and Recreation Manager Caroline Rain said last week.

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Te Ātiawa ki Te Waka-a-Māui Trust Chief Executive Justin Carter said last week that the iwi “welcomed the surprising news of four baby tuatara who have tenaciously found their way into the world, despite the circumstances they have been in”.

The new tuatara enclosure, situated in the Queens Park animal reserve, will open to the public at 10am on Saturday 8 June with a range of celebrations planned, including free face painting, tuatara talks, rock hunts, a sausage sizzle and more.

Demolition works at the museum site are set to recommence from Monday 10 June.

© Scoop Media

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