In late June, ectotherm keepers Ben and Seth, with fieldwork coordinator Derryn, travelled to Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) for the second release of zoo-bred wētāpunga to the wild.

Returning this incredible species – a giant of the insect world that contributes to the health of our forests - to the Bay of Islands, has been made possible through a three-year conservation partnership with Project Island Song. 81 adults were released onto Urupukapuka, Moturua, and Motuarohia Islands, joining a large number of much younger wētāpunga that were released in December last year.

Wētāpunga have lived in Aotearoa for over 190 million years, but the impacts of introduced predators saw their range reduced to just one island - Te Hauturu-o-Toi (Little Barrier). We’ve been working to breed wētāpunga for release onto predator-free islands where they can thrive – and thanks to our incredible conservation partnerships - we have so far succeeded on eight separate islands.

Your zoo visits and donations support this Wild Work - so thank you! Watch our video below to see a wētāpunga release in action on Motuihe Island in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.  


Establishing Wētāpunga on Motuihe Island

Follow Auckland Zoo's ectotherm keepers as they set out to release zoo-bred wētāpunga on Motuihe Island