Tarantulas crawl into Orana

FUZZY BEAST: One of Orana Wildlife Park’s six new  sub-adult tarantulas.
FUZZY BEAST: One of Orana Wildlife Park’s six new sub-adult tarantulas.

Betsy, Rose, Marvin, Gingy, Flicky and Borris: they may not sound like fitting names for eight-legged creepy-crawlies, but that is what Orana Wildlife Park staff have decided to name their latest additions.

For the first time, the park is now home to six sub-adult tarantulas.

Originally from England, the six spiders were passed on to the park last week by the Wellington Zoo. Head keeper of native fauna Alyssa Salton said the tarantulas were "settling in nicely".

"It's a huge opportunity for us to have something different here. They're pretty awesome and we're very excited to have them."

Orana Park now had three species of tarantula - the Chilean rose, which Salton said were "really fuzzy-haired", the Brazilian black, which she called "big and beautiful", and the Andean stripe knee, described as "ginger and shy".

A fourth species would arrive at the park this year.

The tarantulas were not fully grown and, despite their names, their sexes were not yet known.

Salton found the spiders "cute" but said they had a bad reputation.

"They're not nearly as dangerous as people think they are. They do look a bit scary, I guess, but generally they're really docile. Most of them are more scared of us than we are of them."

She said the tarantulas were not yet able to be viewed by the public as an enclosure was still being built. Even when they were ready for public viewing they would not be able to be touched.

"They look tough but they're not and you have to be quite careful with them," Salton said.

The Press