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Reptile Park Ti Pi Reptile Park

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by NZ Jeremy, 12 Jan 2008.

  1. NZ Jeremy

    NZ Jeremy Well-Known Member

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    I went up to Ti Pi point yesterday (11/01/08) to visit the only Reptile Park in NZ…

    I’m not sure of the history of this place but I have been reliablely informed it was once was a zoo…

    There appeared to be 200 – 300 animals of about 40 species… The park is quite obviously privately founded and has a homestead on the site… There were only two people acting on the staff. One was the guy who appeared to own it and the other was a volunteer I had a quick chat too (on the web)…

    The park is well off the beaten track and requires an out of the way trip for almost all attendees…

    Upon entering the park there are a row of gecko/skink enclosures as part of the admissions building which featured NZ and Australian species…

    Skinks (NZ) at the park:

    Three Kings Is. skink, O. fallai
    Northern brown skink, O. moco
    Shore skink, O. smithii
    Striped skink, O. striatum
    Egg-laying skink, O. suteri
    Otago skink, O. otagense
    Scree skink, O. waimatense
    Robust skink, C. alani

    Exotic skinks at the park:

    Shingleback skink, Trachydosaurus rugosus
    Blue-tongue skink, Tiliqua scincoides
    Cunninghams skink, Egernia cunninghamii

    Geckos (NZ) at the park:

    Northland green gecko, N. greyii
    Green gecko, N. elegans
    Forest gecko, H. granulatus
    Goldstripe gecko, H. chrysosireticus
    Duvaucels gecko, H. duvauceli

    Exotic geckos at the park:

    House gecko, Gecko monarchus
    House Gecko, Gehyra australis
    Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularus
    Day gecko, Phelsuma madagascarensis

    The enclosures at the park all seemed about 20 to 30 years old and in need in some maintenance, upgrades, replant or even a fresh coat of paint… The enclosures (throughout the park) all looked like they did not have enough staff looking after them but all the animals looked happy, well fed and healthy (it was obvious they were as well looked after as possible, it is no surprise this place is ARAZPA accredited at the moment)…

    The park was divided into two parts, upper and lower… The upper part contained a large area for Australian Dragons (Eastern Bearded and Water)…

    Exotic lizards at the park:

    Eastern bearded dragon, Pogona barbatus
    Eastern water dragon, Physignathus leseurii

    The upper area also had few large paddocks for Tortoises and a row of Turtle enclosures (about 5 or species)…

    The rest of the park was in a loop format through an area of native bush (it’s a good walk with some spectacular views), the majority of the collection is held in this area… The first house you come across contains skinks/geckos in open runs with enclosure boxes at the front (hard to see them but a large area for small animals)…

    The next enclosure surprised me, capuchin monkeys… The exhibit contained two. The only other place I’ve seen them is Hamilton zoo (these animals are left over from the days when the park was a zoo not just focusing on reptiles, there are no plans to breed them), the enclosure was a little small but it was well planted and had climbing areas available…

    Further down the hill came the American Alligator (I’ve been told there is a male and female but I only saw one)… I was impressed with this enclosure, well planted, quite large, secluded… Not too bad at all…

    Going around the loop there were turtles, tortoises and skinks in relatively large open plan enclosures…

    Tortoises and Turtles at the park:

    Red-footed tortoise, Geochelone carbonaria
    Yellow-footed Tortoise, Geochelone denticulata
    Leopard tortoise, Geochelone pardalis
    Chaco tortoise, Geochelone chilensis
    Star tortoise, Geochelone elegans
    Asian box turtle, Cuora amboinensis
    Murray River turtle, Emydura macquarii
    Texas tortoise, Gopherus berlandieri
    Spur-thighed tortoise, Testuda ibera
    Hermans tortoise, Testuda hermanni
    Red-eared terrapin, Pseudyms scripta
    Reeves turtle, Chinemys reevesii
    Box turtle, Terrapene carolina
    Snake-neck terrapin, Chelodina longicollis

    The last major area at the park comes about three quarters of the way around the loop with a building containing the parks Chameleons, only Monitor (Sand monitor), Tuatara’s (4 that I could see) and a few other open exhibits, large internal exhibits and Gecko Terrariums… The Sand Monitor was quite large and more impressive than any reptile at either Auckland or Hamilton Zoo. It is always great to see Tuatara and these were amongst the largest I’ve ever seen…

    The were a few pairs of Chameleons, in large planted terrariums…

    Chameleons and Monitors:

    Sand monitor, Varanus gouldii
    Jacksons chameleon, Chamaeleo jacksonii

    I’m sure there are a few other things I’ve forgotten but that is the highlights…

    Pros:

    - Almost all of the animals looked great…
    - The enclosures were spacious although it was obvious a bit of money was lacking…
    - The collection was AMAZING considering NZ import laws and the fact I think this park is an animal enthusiast opening his collection to the public to subsidise his passion, it is very good…

    Cons:

    - The enclosures looked like they had been built in 1978 and had basic maintenance since…
    - The capuchins were out of place but are being phased out…

    The park is less than an hours drive from Auckland and if you have a spare day to kill pick out a beach near the park and stop in at both for a couple of hours (lot to do up near Leigh and Walkworth)… The collection is equal too (and superior than) most of NZ’s large zoos reptile collection although obviously with less money but you can see many, many NZ reptiles in one place…

    Well worth the trip and hey only:

    Adult: $10

    Child $5

    Here’s their website:

    Reptile park home page
     
    Last edited: 13 Jan 2008
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @NZ Jeremy: love the review. I am constantly trawling the web for overviews of zoos, parks and aquariums and enjoy the lengthy recaps of past visits.
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Ti Point originally started out as a general wildlife park/zoo. It had all sorts of animals including monkeys and bison (those are the only ones I can remember; I have an old 'Listener' article at home about them -- I'll see if I can dig it out). The owner eventually decided to just stick with reptiles but kept a few of the old animals (hence the capuchins).

    The condition of the park as you describe it (looking a bit run-down but obviously well-looked after and the animals well-cared for) is pretty typical of most of the private collections that are open to the public around the country.
     
    Last edited: 13 Jan 2008
  4. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I think it also used to have zebra, dingoes, otters, and beavers, as well as the monkeys and bison listed above. The otters were in the enclosure at the very bottom of the park, which now has turtles.
     
  5. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I have posted some photos of the Park in the gallery, and I will be going there in early November (weather-permitting), so if anyone wants me to take any specific photos (I'll try and take some exhibit ones anyway) or find anything out, let me know.
     
  6. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    A reptile park and NO snakes?!!!?? - That's a kind of weird.
     
  7. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Not in NZ its not, theres no snakes in the country at all! Well, not legally anyway. If they were to escape into the wild they would be a major threat to out native biodiversity.
     
  8. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Aren't that foreign geckos, turtles and American Alligators either?

    By the way: If Austral-Oceanians have that fear, why not import only MALE snakes and allow the import only to accredited ARAZPA-Institutions?
     
  9. Arvicola

    Arvicola Member

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    Hi there
    Unfortunately there is an Act of Parliament that makes any snake of any species a permanently prohibited organism. So no snake, even males only of a tropical species, can be legally held in NZ.
    It's a shame but that is the law down here.
     
  10. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    That's what I thought.

    Time to elect politicians who adapt/adjust or eliminate those regulations:)
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    If people in New Zealand want to look at snakes in a zoo they can go overseas to do it. There's no good reason to change any rules for the simple sake of gratification of zoo-goers.
     
  12. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Really??

    So that means: If people in Europe want to look at Amurtigers (which potentially could escape and survive in Europe) can go to Siberia or Bennettwallabies (which escaped decades ago in Germany and survived for a longer period) can go to Australia. People from California or Florida who want to look at african animals (specially african birds and reptiles) can go to Africa.

    I don't know the average icome in NZ (I have my doubts that it is bigger than in Switzerland, Germany, Holland and other European Countries) but I think, that not many NZ-Families have the chance to see (maybe except the australian fauna and the few exotics there) LIVE exotic animals outside of NZ because of the lack of money.
    Also don't forget, that seeing animals live has much more influence of protecting and safe nature worldwide than just watching them on tv or in books.
    So I think it is much more than just "sake of gratification of zoo-goers".

    For myself, I am very happy not living in such a "restricted" area like Australia or NZ (although those countries are in my opinion wonderful, there is more sunshine in OZ then here and the people I meet there were very, very friendly). And as far as I can read @Arvicola isn't happy too about the rules. And he IS from NZ.
     
  13. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Edit: "And he IS from NZ instead of me".
     
  14. Arvicola

    Arvicola Member

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    having come from the UK I appreciate that there are different laws to protect the biodiversity in different countries. Try seeing a Coypu in the UK, not the easiest thing to do. So all countries have laws to protect their biodiversity, it isn't just something in Australasia. It is the law that no snakes are allowed in NZ. That's it. I don't see it being something that is debateable so there is no point in getting worked up about it.
     
  15. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    @Arvicola: I'm confused: Is it a shame or not?

    Yes. It is the law and AS LONG AS it will not be changed, everyone MUST go along with it. Agree so far.

    BUT: Why should we (= people living in democratic countries) keep a rule that doesn't make sense (anymore)? Or to verify: That could be changed without getting a worth mentioning higher risk? Shall we really say (also in other parts in our live): Well, its the law. It has validity till the end of time, no matter how the world (the society, the point of view) has changed?

    Yes, every country has its laws to protect their biodiversity. And I'm shure in every country you can find rules in those regulations, that should be changed or abolished.
    I'm thinking for example about the regulations about the birdflue(?, avian influenza, don't know the exactly word in English) for Zoos.

    All over, there is one fact: As far as I know, NONE of the problems that Australia and Newseeland have with introduced species are based on escaped ZOOANIMALS.
    So what is wrong with my idea with the snakes? When I say: Just allow importing only males, there will be no breeding, and so there is no danger for the native fauna, even if one should escape. They can be chipped too, so they could be found quickly by transmitter, if escaped. Also, importing male snakes should only be allowed for ARAZPA Zoos (and exchanged within). So it is easy to control.
     
  16. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree that laws cant exist just because they already exist, things become irrelevant with time, and as society and the world changes. However, I don't feel that the law should be changed to allow snakes into NZ:

    1) Although male snakes will not be able to establish populations, they could still impact small native bird populations.
    2) There would be much opposition from environmental groups concerned at potential risks to native species.
    3) I dont know if importation could be limited to ZAA (ARAZPA) members, I would imagine that additional legislation would be required to differentiate between ZAA members and other zoo license holders.
    4) Importing poisonous snakes would require importation of anti-venoms Im guessing? and would clearly require additional staff training, or new staff altogether.
    5) I'm not sure that New Zealanders are particularly interested in snakes, if they really wanted to see something they could see dead ones in museums or the Scheltopusik (legless lizard) at Auckland Zoo.
    6) Zoo-escapes have established populations in Australia (northern palm squirrels in Perth & Taronga (possibly)) and NZ (wallabies established on Kawau Island from George Greys private zoo, and his kookaburras are thought to have been the founders of the current NZ population), and other species (birds) have escaped from aviaries (eg rainbow lorikeet).
    7) Theft of snakes could be an issue, exotic reptiles have been stolen from NZ zoos before (Hamilton Zoo relatively recently), and native reptiles have been stolen from this Reptile Park (and other zoos) very recently.
    8) There are many other species and even large groups of species eg large lizards (monitors, iguanas) among many others, completely absent from NZ zoos, and importation of these is undoubtedly higher prority than that of snakes.

    Overall: Snakes will not be imported to NZ zoos. I enjoy seeing snakes, (and holding the non-venomous ones :D), but am quite happy to just experience this in Australian, or other countries, zoos.
     
  17. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Hi zooboy. I think that is going to be interesting here. Okay, lets reply:

    1. Yes, they can, but not more than dogs, cats, rats a.s.o already does. And as I mentioned: If the snakes would be chipped, they can be easily and quick found after their escape.

    2. You have allways opposition of groups of any kind when you (want to) change something. That is human nature but not a reason to keep everthing like it is for eternity.

    3. I don't know either. Could also be done by an adjustment of the existing law/regulations.

    4. Yes, poisonous/venoumous snakes are a problem because of the expensive anti-venoum and a special trained staff. So in this case I would be agree with you: I would renounce of keeping them in NZL-Zoos although those snakes can be a big attraction.

    5. I have the opposite opinion (although im not from NZ): Humans are generally interested in snakes. Some because their pattern, some because of their phobias, some because of religious reasons (the evil in the bible), some because of their special physical live. And not only adults are interested in snake. As I can observe by my own girls (Age 3), they are excited of seeing and touching snakes. And I don't think that swiss little girls are so different to NZ little girls.

    6. Okay. That's your point. But lets keep in mind that we are talking about only 2 or 3 recorded cases witch never had that bad influence that animals have done, that were introduced for farming/economical reasons or as pets or hunting animals. And I was talking about a "licence of introducing" for AZA Zoos. Is George Greys Zoo AZA/ARAZPA accredited?

    7. Theft can be a problem. But lets be realistic: Who steels a snake that is chipped and will bring the police to the thieve immediately? And even when the thieve can not be found, he will not relaese the snake to the wild after taking a such risk for itself.

    8. Oh, I am agree that more/other foreign lizard that are completely absent in NZ are a good idea TOO. But don't forget that snakes would be a complete new class of reptiles in NZ and so a more attractive accquisition than "other lizards".

    For clarifying: Even if it sounds so, I will not force anyone in NZ to introduce snakes. I just mean that it would be a good way (too) to bring people closer to understanding and protecting animals. And I also think, that such restrictions made the work of Zoos by conservating threatened animals unneccessary difficult.
     
  18. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Edit to 6. "Licence of importing" of course. Sorry.
     
  19. NZ Jeremy

    NZ Jeremy Well-Known Member

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    Keeping snakes out of NZ is an environmental holy grail here... It will not be changed as long as we have a DoC, Green Party and the usual Watermelon suspects...