Visitors to Auckland Zoo this weekend can look forward to saying gidday to some stunning Aussie newcomers with the opening of its new $3.2million highly immersive 'Strangely Beautiful Australia' development.
Residents include giant forked-tongued lace monitors (Bruce, Alf and Ned), Australia's heaviest stick insect, redback and social huntsman spiders, Eastern water dragons and snake-necked turtles, frogs, fish, and a diversity of vibrant, and very noisy, Australian birds.
The new exhibit, to be home to 18 different species alone, now connects up the Zoo's Aussie Walkabout (home to wallabies, emu and a walkthrough aviary), a Tasmanian devil exhibit, and soon-to-be-completed brolga enclosure, to complete its Australia precinct. It will feature more than 23 different species to become the Zoo's most species-rich area to date.
"I love our 'Strangely Beautiful Australia' exhibit on many levels," says Auckland Zoo's Australian-born and bred director, Jonathan Wilcken.
"It's based on habitats in the southeast of Australia, which is where I come from, and is a real celebration of the eclectic, gorgeous, brash and gaudy wildlife of the area, of the sort that you come across in all sorts of unexpected ways in back gardens, outhouses, and homes. If you look carefully, you'll be able to find deadly redback spiders, giant stick insects, green and golden bell frogs and others."