INDEPENDENT NEWS

Kids BUGGING you for something to do in the holida

Published: Wed 17 Dec 2008 10:53 AM
Butterfly Creek Media Release - Dec 15
Kids BUGGING you for something to do in the holidays?
Do you cringe at the sight of a cockroach, scream out when you see a spider, wince when you see a weta? Well, Bugs About, Butterfly Creeks new insect and bug exhibit area opening soon is not for the faint hearted with some of the worlds scariest and most gruesome looking creatures from the zebra and pink toed tarantula, to our very own wetapunga (Giant Weta). So if you fall into any of the above categories, brace yourself!
Butterfly Creek, situated just 2 minutes from Auckland Airport, opened in 2003 and quickly established itself as one of New Zealand's hottest attractions being home to Australasia's premier Tropical Butterfly House, featuring over 700 exotic butterflies, lizards, fish and birds.
And with the Summer holidays upon us, Butterfly Creek is set to open its doors on the new bug exhibit 'Bugs About' as part of an ambitious and innovative plan that incorporates a range of unique tropical exhibits - complemented by some New Zealand conservation programme highlights.
BUTTERFLY CREEK to save a National Treasure - The Giant Weta (wetapunga)
Visit Butterfly Creek these Summer holidays and you will find yourself face to face with the magnificent and imposing giant weta, the sort of experience that would no doubt give rise to the Maori folklore refering to wetapunga as a demon.
And it truly is a monster with the largest ever recorded over 90mm in length and an alleged weight of 71g - that's heavier than your average sparrow, making it one of the largest and heaviest insects in the world.
But the decline in numbers of this iconic New Zealand species has prompted DOC to get alongside Paul Barrett, Butterfly Creek's entomologist, butterfly house manager and giant weta expert to establish New Zealand's only captive breeding for release programme for the giant weta - wetapunga.
The wetapunga (Deinacrida heteracantha) currently exists as a single population on Little Barrier Island, making it extremely vulnerable. Butterfly Creek along with DOC aims to establish this giant insect on other off shore islands as part of the captive rear & release project
3 mating pairs (6 Adults) will be taken from the Island in mid December to their new home at Butterfly Creek.
"We are extremely excited that Butterfly Creek has been chosen as the perfect place to establish a captive rear and release programme and are looking forward to being an advocate for the future survival of the wetapunga"
- Paul Barrett, Butterfly Creek Entomologist
A Pre-Historic Species Under Threat
Wetapunga and other giant weta are species unique to New Zealand. They are one of our most ancient types of land animals with fossil records that date back 190 million years. Today the wetapunga is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is also fully protected by New Zealand legislation. The main threat to their survival comes from introduced predators such as rats, cats, pigs and stoats.
More Creepy Creatures
And if the thought of the giant weta wasn't enough to send a shiver down your spine, then try 12 tarantula, including the Zebra, Pink Toed, Thailand Black, African King Baboon and Bolivian Blue Leg Tarantula. The largest female of these species can grow up to 225mm (9 inches) across.
Whilst not poisonous, the largest of these tarantula have fangs the size of a cats claw, and can easily bite through a human fingernail if provoked…ouch!
Butterfly Creek's new 'Bugs About' exhibit will also feature "Lilly's" American cockroach house, locusts, honey bee's, mantids, stick insects, other spiders and much more.
And wait, yes there's more. Butterfly Creek will also be home to baby American alligators, the first to be brought to New Zealand in decades. The American alligator is native to the Southeastern United States and the male of this species can grow up to 4.5m weighing 450kg. John Dowsett, Butterfly Creek General Manager says "after three years of efforts and highly demanding processes we are delighted to be hosting New Zealand's only baby Alligators".
Unlike most crocodilian these animals can survive in waters which are relatively cold. As a result the American alligator is the most northerly distributed of all crocodilians.
Butterfly Creek also includes Pirates Below, an aquarium area with New Zealand's largest fresh-water tropical and marine coral tanks, Buttermilk Farm petting zoo, The Red Admiral Express Train, The Tractor Hay Ride, Curly's children's playground, Flutterbuys gift shop and the Papillon Bar and Cafe.
Butterfly Creek is an all-weather facility with undercover exhibits, providing a fantastic family day out, as well as catering for corporate functions, weddings and parties.
ends

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