Tuatara prove a soft touch with public

Last updated 13:00 13/02/2013

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Visitors to Nelson's Elma Turner Library yesterday got the chance to get up close and personal with tuatara as part of the library's Waitangi Day celebrations.

Usually housed in Natureland, the tuatara, Kowhai and Kakariki, both about 15 years old, were available for the public to see and touch under the watchful eyes of Anaru Paul and Samara Davis, of Ngati Koata.

Stephens Island, or Takapourewa, is home to an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 tuatara.

Ms Davis said people were often "overwhelmed" when they came into contact with the reptiles. "They expect them to feel really rough and hard, but they're not."

Tuatara means "spiny back", but visitors Amera McGregor, 4, and and Yassie McGregor, 2, said Kakariki felt "soft". Their mother, Leila McGregor, said it was probably the only time her daughters would get to see and touch tuatara in their lives. "Amera is mad on animals; we get geckos in the garden [at home], but you don't get to touch those. They're very lucky."

The next chance to see the tuatara at the library is tomorrow, from 3pm till 5pm.

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- The Nelson Mail

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