New house for old critters

23:38, Jul 24 2014

The Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown is building a new wing to house tuatara and critically endangered Otago and grand skinks.

Assistant park manager Nicole Kunzmann said because of the reptiles' threatened status, most people would never have the chance to see them in the wild.

"We think that's a real shame. Kiwi Birdlife Park is one of only a handful of places where you can view tuatara up close and the new wing will be an exciting addition to the park and one of the newest enclosures in the country."

Construction starts soon on a state-of-the-art enclosure for the reptiles, which can live to 100 years. A 60 square metre enclosure will be built using sustainably sourced timber, including invasive pine, as part of a native bush regeneration programme.

The new wing will also house critically endangered Otago and grand skink, New Zealand's largest lizards.

The park plan to work with the Department of Conservation on a breed-for-release programme.

Reptiles have specific ultraviolet requirements and the enclosure's design has large glass sliding windows and mesh for unfiltered sunlight.

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The Southland Times