In the frame

BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF

Natureland Zoo in Nelson has a wide variety of Native, Exotic, and Domestic animals. The Nelson Mail went along to document some of them.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). Box turtles get their name from the hinge in their shell that allows them to pack themselves into their own shell and close tightly like a box. Turtles have two pieces of shell. The plastron is the shell covering their abdomen, and the carapace is the domed shell that functions as their spine and covers their back. The hinge is on the plastron, and allows the box turtle to bend their shell so that when they pull their head and legs into their shell, they can then use muscles to close their plastron up close to their carapace. Box turtles use this special skill to protect themselves from predators.

Box turtles are a North American species of turtle that lives in swampy, marsh, forest, or fields. They can hibernate through winter by burrowing under layers of fallen leaves and soil below the freezing level, re-emerging when the soil temperature warms enough to increase their body temperature again. This small turtle is nearly three years old, which is quite young for a box turtle species capable of reaching 100.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). Box turtles get their name from the hinge in their shell that allows ...BRADEN FASTIER

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). Box turtles get their name from the hinge in their shell that allows them to pack themselves into their own shell and close tightly like a box.

Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) are considered by some to be living dinosaurs because they are thought to have survived since the Mesozoic era, however recent scientific research into their genome has demonstrated evidence that they have evolved and indeed have highly complex DNA sequences.

Tuatara are not lizards despite looking like them, though they do share some common reptile adaptations. They are cold blooded, making them sensitive to environmental temperatures. They do not have external ears, and they are most well known for their third eye, a sub-cutaneous organ that is thought to help them discern the changing seasons.

The name tuatara means Spiny back in Māori. Natureland Wildlife Trust is proud to work closely with Ngati Koata iwi in Nelson to protect the cultural and biological histories of tuatara, and share the customs and knowledges of the species with visitors to Natureland.

Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) are considered by some to be living dinosaurs because they are thought to have survived ...BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF

Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) are considered by some to be living dinosaurs because they are thought to have survived since the Mesozoic era, however recent scientific research into their genome has demonstrated evidence that they have evolved and indeed have highly complex DNA sequences.

Giant Weta (Deinacrida rugosa)

The specimen in the image is a female, approximately 1 year of age. They are known to live between 2-3 years, and grow for their entire lifespans. This species of weta is one of the largest insects in the world. They reach up to 7 centimetres in length, with the females able to grow significantly larger than males. They moult, meaning they shed their exoskeleton, and can do so once every couple of months. Weta are an ancient species, potentially having survived since the era of dinosaurs.

Weta are nomadic loners. They emerge from their concealed hiding places in soil, logs, or under stones to climb into foliage to forage for fresh growth to eat. Weta have some of the largest faeces compared to body size of any known member of the kingdom Animalia. Weta have many natural predators, eaten by birds and tuatara, as well as cats and other introduced predators.

Giant Weta (Deinacrida rugosa). This species of weta is one of the largest insects in the world. They reach up to 7 ...BRADEN FASTIER

Giant Weta (Deinacrida rugosa). This species of weta is one of the largest insects in the world. They reach up to 7 centimetres in length, with the females able to grow significantly larger than males.

This species of weta had been eradicated by pests from the mainland, surviving only on Maud Island and Stephens Island in the Cook Strait. In 2007, the species was released into Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary, making a comeback to the mainland. Natureland is working towards a breeding population also in the hopes of participating in a breed for restoration project of the species into safe habitats.

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Little Blue Penguin, kororā (Eudyptula minor) is the smallest penguin in the world, and the only one with blue colouration and no black. Little Blue Penguins are not endemic to New Zealand. They are also found in Australia, Tasmania, Chatham Islands, and there are credible reports of their presence historically in Chile.  These penguins can live up to 25 years of age. While not threatened globally, in New Zealand penguins face not just the predictable predation risk, but also issues of competition for fish in declining fishing areas, often starving in years of fluctuating food abundance, getting caught in fishing nets or discarded fishing line, oil spills, or swallowing plastic.

It's not all doom and gloom though, Abel Tasman National Park has a stable population of little blue penguins, and Natureland works with the Department of Conservation to rehabilitate penguins and release them back into safe habitats. Penguins come to Natureland starved, weak, with high parasite loads, or sometimes injured by dog bites from curious beach going pets. Take the lead, and always keep your dog under control when walking in known bird habitats and nest sites, especially in spring and summer. 

Little Blue Penguin, koror?? (Eudyptula minor) is the smallest penguin in the world, and the only one with blue ...BRADEN FASTIER

Little Blue Penguin, koror?? (Eudyptula minor) is the smallest penguin in the world, and the only one with blue colouration and no black.

Kea (Nestor notabilis) are famous as the world's only alpine parrot. They are this year's bird of the year in New Zealand, and we think with good reason. They are charismatic, unique, clever, and highly endangered. Scientists are just now learning the importance of kea as plant pollinators in the high alpine flora ecosystems. Though they are well known for being in the high mountains and playing in the snow, kea are still reliant upon the protection of South Island beech forests for their survival. They roost at lower elevations in the forests, and nest on the ground in hidden caves or under-tree cavities. This has made them as susceptible to predation as many other of our endemic and endangered species.

Natureland Wildlife Trust is proud to have been supported by Nelson Forests Ltd to champion kea conservation in our region. Kea nest in Kahurangi National Park, Richmond Ranges, and Nelson Lakes National Park, and often visit the forestry sites to say hello to the crew there. By supporting the kea rather than seeing them as frustrating pesky birds, the birds are able to thrive in multiple habitats in the top of the South Island. Natureland also supports the work of the Kea Conservation Trust, working with researchers from their organization and Department of Conservation to monitor the breeding populations of kea in the Nelson Tasman region and promote positive human-kea interactions.

Kea (Nestor notabilis) are famous as the world's only alpine parrot. They are this year's bird of the year in New Zealand.BRADEN FASTIER

Kea (Nestor notabilis) are famous as the world's only alpine parrot. They are this year's bird of the year in New Zealand.

 - Stuff

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