The Auckland Zoo is not just any ordinary zoo. What makes this place special is their many conservation efforts. They work hard to breed and release species found nowhere else in the world, to bring them back from the edge of extinction. The zoo itself is even covered in 100% native New Zealand plants, to keep them alive and thriving as well.
In our NZ episode, we see a variety of insects, plants, and animals at the Zoo, but perhaps you’d like to tak a closer look at some of the ones we met?
The wetapunga or giant weta is one such guest on our show and the largest of the 11 weta species. Native to only two areas in New Zealand, it is the largest insect in New Zealand and one of the heaviest in the world. The maximum recorded weight was just over 70 grams, translating to almost 2.5 ounces! Because of introduced predatory animals like rats, these big bugs have gone extinct on the mainland, restricting them to one small island for about 100 years. Now, some of you may not realized just how good these guys are for forests and why a bug going extinct is important. The wetapunga is a part of the natural cycle of the environment, leaving drops all over the forest keeps up the health of the plant life, while they simultaneously help pollenate flowers as they walk through and feed on them.
The Kiwi is not just a fruit or a term to refer to New Zealanders, it’s also their national bird! On average 27 kiwis are killed by predators every week, which means kiwis could disappear in our lifetime with a 2% decline each year. That’s why the Auckland Zoo is striving to protect and repopulate kiwis on predator protected islands. Kiwis are such odds evolutionary creatures, being refered to as honorary mammals, they are related to an ancient species of flightless birds.
For more info and amazing creatures at the Auckland Zoo, follow the video below to their youtube mini series; Zoo Tales. In it, you see amazing tales behind the scenes of conservation and care for a variety of species.