Western Grand and Otago skinks are making their homes at Wellington Zoo in an effort to save them from extinction. In a partnership with the Department of conservation the project aims to increase numbers of the critically endangered species.
These animals usually make their home near Wanaka but this group were removed in February. They are in quarantine at Wellington Zoo where they are receiving health checks.
The Otago skink is the largest lizard native to new Zealand. The two species which were brought to Wellington are registered with a threat status of nationally critical. They are unique to the Otago region.
At the end of quarantine some will move to other conservation organisations in New Zealand while some will stay in Wellington. Another group of 20 will arrive for quarantine once these ones have moved out.
Wellington Zoo Life Sciences Manager, Amanda Tiffin announced the zoo’s intentions for establishing their group, “Once the second group have completed their quarantine period, we will house eight pairs at Wellington Zoo, made up of both Grand and Otago Skinks.”
The animals will be part of a breeding and release program she said, “By taking them into our care we can help increase the numbers of these western skinks by breeding them, then releasing their offspring back into protected sites in Otago.”
The zoo has already had breeding success with these skinks with three grand skinks bred in February 2013. These were the first grand skinks ever born at the zoo.
Photo Credit:Wellington Zoo