Tuatara breeding all over the place

Last updated 15:24 31/05/2014

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OPINION: Reading The Southland Times headline and subsequent story about tuatara on Thursday, I think it is important to note the following:

While the Southland Museum was the first facility in the country to introduce a captive tuatara breeding programme, it is no longer the only place to research and breed tuatara.

A quick internet search of the topic confirms the total estimated wild tuatara population is more than 50,000 - potentially 100,000 - living on dozens of island sanctuaries and some mainland eco-sanctuaries.

There are several captive breeding programmes throughout the country including Auckland and Wellington zoos.

Orokonui Eco-sanctuary, north of Dunedin, has a wild population of about 85 tuatara. It received 30 of these 18 months ago from Nga Manu Nature Reserve at Waikanae.

My question at the Invercargill City Council meeting on Tuesday was part of a wider discussion about the proposed Southland Museum and Art Gallery redevelopment and whether there was a need to continue to breed such large numbers, given that we have almost 100 tuatara in captivity, and there are other robust programmes doing the same work.

I made no reference to Henry getting ''the snip'', nor did I suggest the programme be given ''the chop''.

I simply asked the question.

CR KAREN ARNOLD
Invercargill

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