Job Title: Tuatara Consulting Inc. Brand Ambassador
Age: 12 years old
Height/Weight: 1’6” and 1.3 lbs.
Place of Origin: Takapourwa Island
Current Residence: Otorohanga Kiwi House, New Zealand
Favorite Food: Beetle Pizza
Top Talent: Strong jaws and a wicked bite
Favorite Thing to do: Represent his family at Tuatara Consulting Inc
Tuatara are the sole remaining survivors of an ancient group of reptiles called the ‘beak heads’ that lived on the earth 200 million years ago. Tuatara have survived because New Zealand was separated from other land masses 85 million years ago before mammals were established on the islands. Tuatara have lots of cool adaptive features and behavior that make them unique. These include three sets of teeth made partly of bone, the ability to survive in a cold climate, and a third eye. The kaitiaki/guardians of tuatara like Tony are the Ngati Koata iwi that partner with the Department of Conservation and the Otorohanga Kiwi House and other wildlife centers to care for tuatara nation-wide.
Tony was hatched naturally at the Kiwi House tuatara colony in 2006 and now lives in a large free-flight enclosure with 17 other tuatara and many other birds and insects. Tony has a microchip the size of a grain of rice in a fold of skin on his left side which is a way of permanently identifying him. This is important for helping his keepers to monitor his health across the next 100 years (tuatara live for a very long time!) and to ensure we maintain a genetically diverse population. He also has a set of identification beads, 2 red and 6 light blue. Eventually Tony will leave the breeding program when his genetic diversity is captured in the program and he will live in the wild. Do not worry, after release Tony has agreed to stay on and fulfill his lifelong dream of serving as the Tuatara Consulting Inc. Brand Ambassador!