Tuatara sex worth the 111-year wait

Last updated 23:16 17/03/2008
Southland Times
FIRST TIME: Invercargill's tuataras Henry and Mildred consummated their passion for the first time in the city's museum.

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One of Invercargill's oldest residents got caught in the act when he had sex in a public place.

Longtime Southland Museum and Art Gallery resident Henry the tuatara - a rare New Zealand native lizard - finally proved his manhood at age 111, when he was caught in the act by tuatara curator Lindsay Hazley on Friday afternoon.

For the past two months Henry has been shacked up with three female tuatara, in the hope he would breed for the first time.

At 5pm on Friday Hazley checked on the tuatara and to his delight he found Henry getting intimate with Mildred, a "prolific breeder" aged 70 to 80 years.

"I'm just totally chuffed at what I've been trying to get from old Henry ever since I started looking after him," Hazley said.

"It's a major, major thing ... he's never mated in his life in Southland that we know of."

Henry has been with the museum since 1972 and had never shown an interest in mating. However, when he did show interest, he made sure it was noticed -- tuatara mate at night and Hazley said until he witnessed Henry and Mildred in the act last week he had never before seen tuatara mating during the day.

Last year Henry was paired with Juliet, a 20-year-old female, and despite their showing promising signs, the pair failed to mate.

Twice in the past Henry bit off Mildred's tail when attempts were made to breed the pair.

Should Henry and Mildred produce offspring they would bring genetic diversity into the museum's breeding programme, Hazley said.

"He's looking out there with a wee smirk on his face now." --Southland Times


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