The National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier has just received an early Christmas present as they welcome two new alligators to their family.
The juvenile female alligators have been lent to the aquarium for a two year period by Butterfly Creek in Auckland.
The toothy pair called ‘Fiona’ and ‘Cheryl’ which are almost six years old and one metre long, originate from an alligator farm in Australia, but have grown up at Butterfly Creek.
The alligators were collected by aquarium staff earlier in the week and made the trip to Napier by road.
National Aquarium of New Zealand manager Rob Yarrall says the pair travelled very well. When we arrived in Auckland the alligators were ‘hanging out’ in their normal enclosure. We took with us two specialist made containers for them to travel in to ensure they were well protected and comfortable during their journey.
“Apart from a couple of stops along the way to check on our new friends, the pair travelled without a hitch. They seem pleased to be in their new home and are settling in well,” says Mr Yarrall.
Fiona and Cheryl will share residences on the first floor of the aquarium with Terrapins in a Florida Everglades themed enclosure which the aquarium team have built to mirror their natural American habitat.
“To understand what the Everglades are like, imagine a tropical swamp with trees that grow out of the water and lots of lush vegetation, says Mr Yarrall.”
Napier City Council’s Tourism Services Marketing Manger Rebecca Ainsworth said the timing of the arrival of the alligators just prior to the peak summer visitor period couldn’t be better and will be a welcome addition to the aquarium.
“We already have so many creatures and animals to show our visitors from all around the world, so the alligators will fit so well and broaden that mix even further,” says Mrs Ainsworth.
“Visitors seem to love anything with sharp teeth that have that mystery or dangerous element about them, so I’m sure they will be a popular attraction at the aquarium.”
The new alligator exhibit will be officially opened at a ‘Friends of the Aquarium’ party on Friday 9 December between 5.30 and 7pm and will be opened to the public to view from Saturday 10 December.