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Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park reels in major sponsors to open new reptile facility

July 24, 2014 Attraction No Comments Email Email

Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park is expanding its collection of rare and endangered wildlife investing in a brand-new New Zealand reptile wing to house tuatara and the critically endangered Otago and Grand skinks.

Leading eco-tourism operator Ziptrek Ecotours and building supplies provider ITM Southern Lakes have provided “very generous” financial support for the building as the new wing’s major sponsors.

Based just a short walk from downtown Queenstown and nestled amid five acres of native bush, the Kiwi Birdlife Park’s operations and conservation work are funded entirely by visitor admissions and donations from people and businesses.

Many other contractors have offered their services at heavily reduced rates or free of charge to assist with the build.

Kiwi Birdlife Park assistant park manager Nicole Kunzmann said the business always relied on the generosity of others to ensure the future of the park and the animals within it.

L-R) Ziptrek Ecotours sales and marketing manager Nicky Busst with Kiwi Birdlife Park assistant manager Nicole Kunzmann_media

(L-R) Ziptrek Ecotours sales and marketing manager Nicky Busst with Kiwi Birdlife Park assistant manager Nicole Kunzmann

“Without people’s kind donations we wouldn’t be able to provide people with access to some of our country’s rarest animals and protect them for future generations,” she said.

“In this instance we’ve been fortunate enough to receive great support from our local community for this specific project. We can’t thank Ziptrek and ITM enough for their assistance in protecting these wonderful species.”

Due to start construction shortly, one of the highlights of the new project will be a state-of-the-art tuatara enclosure providing a modern long-term home for these animals that can easily live to be over 100 years old.

Tuatara are New Zealand’s living dinosaurs and not found anywhere else in the world and are now extinct on the North and South Islands.

Facilities such as the Kiwi Birdlife Park perform an important function in connecting and educating visitors about these fascinating animals as well as contributing to conservation and research projects.

Ms Kunzmann said the new extension would enable them to “contribute to important conservation projects as well as showcasing NZ’s amazing reptiles to our local community and visitors.”

Nicky Busst and Nicole Kunzmann with Kiwi Birdlife Park resident tuataras Rex and Tane

Nicky Busst and Nicole Kunzmann with Kiwi Birdlife Park resident tuataras Rex and Tane

“Due to their threat status in the wild most people will never have the chance to see these amazing reptiles in the wild,” she said.

“We think that’s a real shame. Kiwi Birdlife Park is one of only a handful of places where you can view tuatara up close and the new wing will be an exciting addition to the park and one of the newest enclosures in the country.”

The new wing will also showcase the critically endangered Otago and Grand skink, New Zealand’s largest lizards, which are also only available to see in a couple of places in the country.

“We’re working with Department of Conservation (DOC) on an important breed-for-release programme for both of these local species which will hopefully help to increase their numbers in the wild,” said Ms Kunzmann.

29-year old tuatara Rex and Tane look forward to seeing their new home_media

29-year old tuataras Rex and Tane look forward to seeing their new home

Major sponsor Ziptrek Ecotours has had a long association with the park based on a shared ethos around sustainability and conservation.  New Ziptrek employees visit the park as part of their induction so that they can learn about New Zealand’s amazing wildlife and flora first hand and the park is promoted to Ziptrek visitors when they learn about tuatara on the Moa and Kea tours.

“Kiwi Birdlife Park’s dedication to conservation and the sustainable approach to our native wildlife is totally in-keeping with the ethos of Ziptrek Ecotours,” said Ziptrek Ecotours marketing and sales manager.

“We see this investment as a natural progression of our approach to sustainable tourism and we look forward to future generations being able to enjoy the incredible reptile that is the New Zealand Tuatara,” she said.

The 60sq m building will meet both companys’ environmentally-friendly operational policies using sustainably sourced timber within the enclosure.

Where possible this will be sourced from invasive pine species which have been removed from the park as part of the native bush regeneration programme.

“We’ve planted over 10,000 native plants into the park to provide food and shelter for our wild native birds and we’re working on removing the pines as we go,” said Ms Kunzmann.

Reptiles have very specific UV requirements so this was taken into account during the building’s design stage with large glass sliding windows that act as a thermal bank to help heat the enclosure when closed.

“Once direct sunlight hits the enclosure in the summer, we’ll be able to open these windows to enable access to unfiltered sunlight which is essential for the reptiles’ healthy growth and development.  A mesh screen will drop down in place of the sliding windows when open to provide safety for the animals.”

“We’re so pleased to be able to get this project off the ground as it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while now and it’s fantastic to receive so much local support for a really great project,” she said.

“Conservation is something really close to our hearts and we love being involved in projects that have direct benefits for our wildlife, community and ecosystems.”

“We’ve had a great relationship with Ziptrek Ecotours for many years and we’re really happy to formalise it through their support of our new project,” said Ms Kunzmann.

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