Five boisterous brothers are new to the zoo! Ikan, Bajak, Tiga (aged 3), Siak and Tuk (2) are Asian small-clawed otters and were transferred from Perth Zoo to Orana as part of the managed conservation breeding programme for these cheeky creatures. Tomorrow is their first full day on display to the public.
Lead Animal Keeper, Laura Ashton, says the new otters are delightful. “They are extremely busy boys, having the curiosity of a cat whilst being highly dextrous and nimble, able to manipulate objects in their hands. They become astounded by the smallest of things and love enrichment items. The boys sleep and nest together in the same space so we are greeted by a pile of otters in the morning! It will be so exciting to see them explore their new habitat.”
“Our team is delighted to welcome otters back to Orana. Our last animals sadly passed away in 2016 due to old age. Since that time, we have been liaising with our zoo partners to make this transfer a reality. Some major upgrades have been completed to the exhibit in preparation for the highly anticipated return of these amazing animals.”
Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of all the otters. They are good indicators of the health of freshwater systems in which they live. If the water becomes polluted otters move to a cleaner source. Threats to the species include increasing pollution and habitat loss.
“Visitors will adore meeting the otters and it is great for our team to have another very positive addition to Orana”, concludes Laura.
Distinguished by a short fluffy tail, beautiful orange coats with white stripes, Orana Wildlife Park’s newest arrivals – five young nyala (2 males and 3 females aged 1-4 years) – are capturing the attention of the team.
This is the first time Orana has ever held nyala, a spiral-horned antelope! The animals were transferred from Wellington Zoo last week and will venture on display for the first time in Christchurch today.
Lead Ungulate Keeper, Stewart Taylor, says: “It is fantastic to join another breeding programme for an antelope species. The nyala travelled well and have settled in nicely here. The girls are very friendly and inquisitively approach keepers whereas the boys are more reserved”.
Though nyala are known as a spiral-horned antelope, only males have horns. Their horns can grow over 80cm in length and have a yellow tip. “Our boys are young but we will watch their development with interest”.
“It’s a privilege for us to join the regional breeding programme for these stunning animals. Orana plays a key role in maintaining genetically healthy sustainable programmes especially for hoofstock species being New Zealand’s only open range zoo.”
The main threats to nyala are poaching and habitat loss. They number less than 30,000 in the wild and the majority of the population is protected in national parks in sanctuaries in Southern Africa.
“I am sure visitors will enjoy meeting these amazing animals and we hope in time they will produce lots of youngsters” concludes Stewart.
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Orana Wildlife Park has new additions to the Park – two stunning Sumatran tigers! Reggie and Scout are the only tigers in the South Island.
The 4-year-old big cats were transferred from Australia Zoo, arriving in Christchurch mid December. They have completed quarantine and made their visit public apperance just before Christmas Day!
Orana’s Exotic Species Manager, Rachael Mason, says her team is very excited to work with the new arrivals: “Scout and Reggie are beautiful animals. They are very chatty cats, greeting their keepers with a friendly, distinctive tiger chuff. We’ve also seen them cuddling together and grooming each other, positive signs that they are relaxed. They have settled in well and now it is time to let them explore their new outdoor surroundings.”
“Our team is delighted to welcome tigers back to Orana. Our last elderly tiger (Dumai) sadly passed away in February, so we have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of these two boisterous young boys. We have completed a range of upgrades to our tiger habitat, opened in 2006, including erecting new platforms, climbing structures and updating the water features for the benefit of the cats.”
Orana is privileged to be an active partner in the Zoo Aquarium Association Australasia’s breeding programme for this critically endangered species. Sumatran tigers number less than 500 in the wild. They are threatened due to habitat loss as a result of expansion of oil palm plantations, illegal trade and loss of prey.
“Reggie and Scout will be amazing ambassadors for their wild cousins. They will help Orana raise funds for Wild Cats Conservation Alliance, directly contributing to wild tiger conservation, whilst also highlighting the plight of wild tigers and how visitors can help address palm oil deforestation to conserve these magnificent big cats.”
“It is wonderful to have a very positive end to such a tricky year. This is a perfect early Christmas present for our team and I am sure visitors will adore meeting and learning about these magnificent cats” concludes Rachael.
They hatch in a termite mound, have long forked tongues, a nasty bite and they’re Australian … introducing Orana Wildlife Park’s latest arrivals – two, ten-month-old, Lace Monitors (aka goannas). The delightful lizards, which are yet to be sexed, were transferred yesterday from Auckland Zoo where they hatched.
Lace Monitors are amazing animals that are related to Komodo dragons. We are privileged to have the opportunity to work with them. These juveniles will eventually grow to two metres long!
Lace Monitors possess strong claws for digging and climbing. They are highly intelligent animals, evidenced by their relationship with termites. The female digs a hole in a termite mound to lay her eggs, leaving the termites to close up the hole. The young hatch after 8 to 9 months and the female will return to dig them out!
The monitors are carnivorous and will eat anything that fits in their mouth including birds, small mammals and carrion, and they actively forage for birds’ eggs. They are very food motivated and extremely active, making them a fantastic addition to our Reptile House. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the unique traits of these stunning animals compared to our unique and cryptic native reptiles.
Introducing Orana Wildlife Park’s newest bachelor – Tostada, a 23 year old spider monkey. He’s 8kg of fur and muscle, dark and handsome (not so tall) and he’s already working his magic on his four new girls.
Tostada was transferred from Hamilton Zoo last week as part of the managed regional breeding programme for this endangered species. He’s settled in well to his new surroundings and has been fully introduced to Orana’s four female monkeys today. The females gave a very warm welcome to their new male, which led to a speedy full introduction.
Exotic Species Manager, Rachael Mason, says: “he is a lovely boy. He and the girls are really cute together – we’ve seen lots of grooming each other which is a great sign.”
Naturally, Park staff are hopeful of hearing the pitter patter of small monkey feet in the future - the last monkey born at Orana was in 2005.
Habitat loss is one of main reasons spider monkeys are endangered.
Kamili, a beautiful 20-month old female giraffe, arrived at Orana Wildlife Park last night. She was transferred from Perth Zoo, travelling almost 6,000km to Christchurch. She crossed the Nullarbor desert from Perth to Melbourne before embarking on a 7-day sea voyage to Lyttelton.
This morning, Kamili completed MPI checks and has now being fully introduced to Orana’s herd of three females and our young (unrelated) male named Mabuti. She will be in quarantine for the next three days but fully visible to Park visitors.
Orana’s Manager of Exotic Species, Rachael Mason says: “we are delighted to welcome Kamili to Orana – she is a very pretty giraffe and a confident young lady. We are thrilled with how well she has settled in. The planned introduction to our four giraffes went brilliantly and I’m delighted we now have a herd five of these majestic gentle giants.”
Kamili has ancestral ties to Orana Wildlife Park as her father, Armani, was born here in 2002! Perth Zoo Senior Keeper, Kaelene McKay, travelled with Kamili to Christchurch. “Kamili has now completed the reverse trip to the journey her father undertook many years ago; she has returned to family.”
“I’m delighted how well she has handled the move. This transfer is a great example of how zoos work collaboratively together. This morning, Kamili marched straight out of the crate and is now making friends with her new herd – it’s like she’s been here forever!”
Kamili was transferred to Orana as part of the managed regional breeding programme for this increasingly threatened species. Giraffe populations continue to decline due to habitat loss and poaching.
“Obviously Kamili is too young to breed at this point, and our bull Mabuti is only a young man. This transfer was completed with the aim that in time Kamili will contribute to the preservation of her species. The last giraffe born at Orana was in 2012 - Harriet, who still lives here and is in fact Kamili’s auntie” concludes Rachael.