Date: 22 Aug 2018
Slither over this bank holiday weekend (25 to 27 August 2018) and join in the fun at our reptile and amphibian-themed ‘creatures and critters’ event.
We have recently welcomed two new reptile species. A breeding pair of Fijian banded iguana arrived from Vienna Zoo and Augsberg Zoo and a female panther chameleon who will soon be joined by a male.
The new arrivals have joined more than 20 species of some of the world’s most endangered reptile and amphibian species in Belfast Zoo’s reptile and amphibian house, including golden mantella, mossy frogs, lemur leaf frogs, frilled lizards, the venomous Mexican beaded lizard, Jamaican boas, Utila iguanas and yellow-headed day geckos!
The Fijian banded iguana is an endangered lizard found on several of the Fiji islands. This stunning species is bright blue and green in colour which helps to keep it camouflaged in the treetops, where it spends most of its life.
Fijian banded iguana are facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. The main threats facing this species are introduced invasive species such as rats, feral cars and goats but they are also impacted by the destruction of their habitat and the pet trade. In the last 30 to 45 years it is estimated that the population has declined by more than 50% and this worrying trend is expected to continue with the projections showing that the remaining populations will be further reduced by between 30% and 40% over the next 40 years.
The striking panther chameleon comes from the tropical forests of Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world. Madagascar is home to more than 250,000 species, 70% of which are found nowhere else in the world. However, Madagascar has one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet with more than 80% of the forest having disappeared since the 1950s, leaving many irreplaceable species facing increasing threats. In addition to the new panther chameleons, Belfast Zoo is home to a number of Madagascan species including ring-tailed lemurs, crowned lemurs, red-bellied lemurs, white-belted ruffed lemurs, crowned sifaka and fossa.
Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, is delighted with the new arrivals, “We first opened our renovated and extended reptile and amphibian house in April 2017. At that time, the facility became home to 15 new species which had not previously been held at the zoo and we are delighted to welcome a further two new species. The house not only provides exciting habitats for the species that we care for but also has nursery facilities which have been utilised over the last year as the animals have bred. In the short time that the house has been open, we have had great success with our reptile and amphibian species, welcoming three critically endangered Utila iguana and most recently celebrating the arrival of three mossy frog tadpoles with more frogspawn recently spotted!”
Alyn continues “Reptiles have walked the earth for more than 340 million years, even outliving the dinosaurs. Amphibians were the first creatures to venture onto land almost 400 million years ago. However, many reptile and amphibian species are facing the very real threat of extinction. In fact, more than 150 amphibian species have become extinct since 1980. A further third of the world’s amphibians are threatened with extinction. Conservation is one of our primary aims and, in addition to our active work through global and collaborative breeding programmes for these species, we also work closely with a number of conservation projects. During the August bank holiday, we will be running a reptile and amphibian themed event and will also be fundraising for the Amphibian Survival Association (ASA). The ASA is the global alliance of organisations committed to amphibian conservation, including many zoos.”
Hop on over to our reptile and amphibian house this weekend for the ‘creatures and critters’ event. There’s fun for all family with reptile meet and greet sessions, face painting, creature crafts, colouring in stations, touch and feel tables and much more! You can even enter a competition to win a ‘sss-uper’ prize.
You can also visit all of your favourite animals at feeding time, find out more about the work the zoo carries out at the daily keeper talks, pose for a zoovenir at the photography base camp and explore the Adventurers’ Learning Centre (including snake island).
Creatures and critters
We support a number of in-situ conservation projects.
Amphibian Survival Alliance
As part of our ‘creatures and critters’ event, the zoo will be fundraising for the Amphibian Survival Alliance.