Kiwi-hatched crocs hitch ride north
A new item has been added to the list of New Zealand exports - live saltwater crocodiles.
Six juvenile crocs are winging their way across the world to Ireland after Butterfly Creek at Auckland Airport ran out of room to house them.
The 3-year-olds are moving to a new home at Reptile Village Conservation Zoo in County Kilkenny, Ireland. They flew out at 3am on Tuesday, each in their own crate carefully constructed for size.
The crocs hatched from eggs imported into New Zealand from Australia's Northern Territory in 2011. But zookeeper Brett Dyson says it wasn't logical to keep the juveniles at Butterfly Creek.
"We just don't have the space. It's just too physically dangerous - we have had to pull them out of the one-on-one public displays.
"The idea was to bring them here, incubate them and then hatch them. They are the first-ever crocs to be hatched in New Zealand and now are the first-ever to be exported."
Animal manager Roberto Lapinski says Butterfly Creek was told only a couple of eggs would hatch.
"We were first given three eggs and then we were given another three eggs and in theory only 20 per cent of them were going to hatch - one or two eggs.
"But all of them hatched."
Butterfly Creek general manager John Dowsett says the crocs couldn't be returned to Australia because of import restrictions.
"It was important to us to not send them to a croc farm where they would face a very uncertain future. We approached more than 60 zoos around the world.
"Reptile Village Conservation Zoo in Ireland is a specialist reptile zoo and will be providing the baby crocs with a great new home."
Director and creator James Hennessy says the Kiwi crocs will join the zoo's snakes, lizards, tortoises, turtles and other reptiles.