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Hamilton Zoo Tuatara head for new home

Zoo News - Posted 26 August 2014

Tuatara

Ten juvenile tuatara from Hamilton Zoo set off on Monday, bound for a new home.

The 10 reptiles are being transferred to Stanley Island, a pest-free Department of Conservation wildlife reserve in the Mercury Islands, off the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

In the early 1990s, Hamilton Zoo provided a safe haven for four tuatara which had been removed from Stanley Island so the Department of Conservation could carry out a pest eradication program. 

Hamilton Zoo Curator Samantha Kudeweh says the intention has always been to breed and return these iconic reptiles to the island.

 “Seven tuatara bred at the zoo from that initial group were released back to Stanley island in 2004.  The current travellers represent two further successful breeding events, and we are now able to send them back to their island to boost the wild population.”

Hamilton and Auckland Zoos have been part of a tuatara “breed for release” programme.  Eggs laid at the zoo were sent to Victoria University to be incubated and hatched, and hatchling tuatara were then sent back to the zoo to be cared for and raised to a releasable size.

They’re expected to return home to Stanley Island on Monday, weather permitting.

“They will travel with Hamilton Zoo Veterinarian Mike Goold who has been their primary caregiver since they were hatchlings,” says Ms Kudeweh.

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