These frogs are aquatic, with flattened bodies, powerful hind legs and large flippered feet. Living in murky water an African clawed frog is often difficult to see. Sense organs near the mouth and on other body parts are used instead. Conservation status: Least concern
Some facts about ours: Our African clawed frogs are located in our Discovery and Learning (Education) Centre where school students can check them out.
Habitat: Can be found throughout the deserts of southern Africa, from Kenya and Uganda through to South Africa.
Age: They can live up to 21 years in captivity.
They use their powerful legs to dig burrows in the desert sand. Burrows can be as deep as 2 metres and as long as 20 metres! A porcupine's tail quills are hollow and can be rattled as a warning for predators to keep their distance. In spite of popular belief, porcupine's do not shoot their quills. They are very sharp through, and will detach from the porcupine after they have become embedded in a predator's skin. Baby porcupines are called porcupettes and are usually born in a litter of 1-2 individuals. Porcupettes are born with their eyes open, developed teeth, and with very soft quills which quickly harden as they grow. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: We have two African crested porcupines - male, Nyack and female, Onion. They live in our nocturnal house near the entrance to the Zoo.
Encounter: 1.45pm Sunday
Habitat: The preferred habitat of the African lion is open savannah and grasslands, but they can also be found amongst sand dunes in the Kalahari Desert.
Age: 20 years
Even in the wild, lions sleep 90% of the time. Unlike domestic cats, big cats roar but cannot purr. They use their roars to communicate, and given the extent of their territory in the wild, it is essential that their voice can be heard at long distances; some as far as 10 km away. The male lion weighs 200kg on average. The mane protects his throat from attack and makes him look a bigger and fiercer opponent. The female weighs an average of 150kg. Despite their weight, lions are agile athletes, with a sprint speed of 60m/h (same as a racehorse) and a long jump of 10m, the length of about a row of six bicycles. These skills are vital when hunting. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: We have four lions here at Auckland Zoo. Ngala (male), and 3 females, Sheeka, Kura and Amira.
Encounter: 2.15pm Thursday and Sunday.
Habitat: American alligators are found from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas. They usually live in freshwater, in slow-moving rivers, but are also found in swamps, marshes and lakes.
Age: The expected lifespan for American alligators is up to 50 years in the wild.
Alligators have a broader, blunter head and snout than their crocodilian cousins. Males can grow up to 5m and females up to 2.5m. Alligators are well designed for catching their prey with eyes, ears and nose positioned on top of their head. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo currently has 5 female American alligators, their names are Doris, Tallulah, Georgia, Dixie and Dakota.
Habitat: The Antipodes Island parakeet is endemic to the Antipodes Islands.
Naturally inquisitive and playful, the Antipodes Island parakeet can be quite friendly. They are from an island rarely visited by people, so have little fear of humans. The Antipodes Island parakeet is one of five species of kākāriki. Kākāriki are bright green in colour but can be identified by the distinguishing coloured areas on the head. The Antipodes Island species has an entirely green head. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Habitat: Misty, moist areas above 400m in altitude. They have been found at the Coromandel and one site west of Te Kuiti.
Archey's frogs are the smallest of New Zealand's four endemic frogs at around 37mm. One of New Zealand's native frogs, it has several distinctive features, which make them very different from frogs elsewhere in the world. They have no external eardrum. They have round (not slit) eyes. They don't croak regularly like most frogs. They don't have a tadpole stage (instead the embryo develops inside an egg, and then hatches as an almost fully-formed frog). The young are cared for by their parents - the male Archey's frog carries his young offspring around on his back. Conservation status: Critically endangered.
Habitat: Asian elephants live in habitats ranging from dense tropical forests to grassy plains.
Age: Elephants live for approximately 60 years in the wild and for up to 80 years in captivity.
Asian male elephants (bulls) can weigh up to 4.4 tonnes and the females (cows) up to 4.1 tonnes. Newborn babies are around 125 kg, about the same as three ten-year-old children. Elephants feature the biggest ears in the world, which have a double function: to hear and to help cooling both the ears and body. These animals also have the longest nose of any animal. It consists of the nose and top lip, and contains over 40,000 muscles. Elephants use their trunk to reach food, suck up water and have a shower, smell, touch, breath, trumpet and as protection. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: We have one female Asian elephant, Burma, born in 1982. Burma's favourite foods are banana palm and sugar cane, and sweet fruits like watermelon. Burma loves exploring new environments, and enjoys her daily walks around the Zoo. These are varied, and can involve going into other animal enclosures.
Encounter: 12noon Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.
Habitat: These otters live in freshwater streams, rivers and creeks, as well as coastal regions, often near dense foliage.
Age: 12 to 14 years in the wild, but in captivity, otters have lived up to 20 years.
Otters are small amphibious mammals that are related to meerkats and skunks. Otters enjoy gymnastic rough and tumble - tobogganing on their stomachs in the mud! They are very strong swimmers using their tail to sweep from side to side, helped by their webbed feet. Otter species are threatened around the world because of loss of their ideal habitat, through pollution and deforestation. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo has two groups of otters. Juno and Jeta live in an enclosure next to Tiger Territory and Java, Kanan and Banyu live in an enclosure opposite our meerkats.
Encounter: 12.30pm Friday
Habitat: Axolotls were only found naturally in two lakes in Mexico. One of those lakes has since been drained and filled to make room for more houses. They are now only naturally present in Lake Xochimilco.
Age: An axolotl can live for up to 15 years, with some to have been reported to survive to the 25-year mark.
Axolotls are the larval stage of a salamander. In the wild, this species stays like this for its whole life keeping its gills and fins and staying in the water. They eat worms, tadpoles, insects, insect larva, small fish and anything else they can catch. There are so few axolotls in the wild that they are classed as endangered. There are however, many kept as pets throughout the world. Conservation status: Critically endangered.
Some facts about ours: The Auckland Zoo axolotl are hiding in the Discovery and Learning Centre, where school groups can check them out.
Habitat: These birds were once common throughout New Zealand, but the loss of wetland habitat and introduced predators have taken their toll. They are now mainly found in salt marshes and rush wetlands.
They can fly and swim… but prefer to walk. But spending so much time on the ground makes them very vulnerable to predators. Listen for their distinctive call – it sounds like a rusty gate! Conservation status: Least concern.
Captain Cook described the korimako's melodious song as, 'like small bells exquisitely tuned'. Well camouflaged in the forest, you usually hear it before you can see it. Korimako numbers declined sharply during the 1800s, after European rats and stoats arrived in New Zealand. Although numbers have increased, they are still rare in some parts of the country, particularly on the mainland north of Taupo. Bellbirds from different areas have noticeably different songs, in the same way that people have regional accents. Young bellbirds also sound different to adults. Conservation status: Least concern.
Habitat: Blue and yellow macaws are seen flying in the upper levels of the tropical rainforests of South America.
Age: 40 years plus.
At 85cm tall and about 1.5kg in weight, these are considered one of the world's largest parrots. Living in flocks of up to 30 birds, this bird has a massive hinged beak and zygodactyl toes pointing forwards and backwards allowing it to grasp food and grip while climbing. Macaws have a distinctive loud, raucous shriek, which they use to advertise their presence. They also make screeching and squawking noises. Screaming is also a natural behaviour for macaws. They do this to make contact with one another, to define their territory, and as part of play. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: Make sure you check out the macaw encounter when our macaws have an opportunity to really stretch their wings and fly out in the open!
Encounter: 12noon Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and public holidays
Habitat: Orangutans are arboreal and dependent on large tracts of mature rainforest. They live in tropical rainforests, including both hill and swamp forests.
Age: Orangutans have a lifespan of up to 35 years in the wild or up to 50 years in captivity.
Orangutans are great apes, a type of primate, that are generally solitary animals. They have short courtship periods, but females will look after their young until they are around eight years old. A dominant male may have a territory that is many kilometres wide and he will call deeply to make sure other males keep out of his patch. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: We have two groups of Bornean orangutans at the Zoo. Charlie, Melur, Wanita and Madju live in the larger enclosure. Isim and Gangsa live in the enclosure next door.
Encounter: 12.30pm Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.
Habitat: Agoutis live on the forest floor in the rainforest. They make their homes in hollow logs.
Age: Can live up to 18 years in captivity.
Related to guinea pigs and maras, agoutis have extra long legs, which mean they can achieve great speeds. Agoutis are rodents, with long front teeth for gnawing. They feed on fallen fruit, grain and nuts and are attracted to the sound of ripe fruit hitting the ground. Unripe fruit is buried in store for later use. When courting, males spray females with urine; females ready for mating respond by doing a "frenzy dance". They are monogamous, so they mate for life. Agoutis are not endangered, but they do suffer from hunting and loss of their habitat. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our agouti living in The Rainforest.
Habitat: These large cranes are found in Northern Australia. They live in large flocks in marshy areas.
Age: Can live to 33 years in captivity.
During courtship, they are "elegant" dancers and some of their moves are copied in Aboriginal dances. The word "brolga" means native companion. Eggs are laid on a platform made from grass and sticks. Their diet is a mixture of roots, grasses and insects. Conservation status: Least concern.
Habitat: The California sea lion is found off the Californian coastline, in warm and temperate waters.
Age: Their expected life span is between 20 and 30 years.
Sea lions appear to 'fly' through the water using their front flippers to pull them. They use their back flippers as a rudder. On land, sea lions move by using all four flippers. This is different from seals, which drag themselves along with their front flippers. Sea lion family groups have one male (a bull) and a harem of females. Scuttle and Kipper share their enclosure with three New Zealand fur seals (Kaiako, Moana and Atamai) and a sub-antarctic fur seal called Orua. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: Our sea lion keepers spend a lot of time interacting with the sea lions with training. This is to stimulate their bodies and minds. It is an enjoyable experience for the sea lions and the keepers, who build up a great bond with their animals.
Encounter: 3.30pm Monday and Saturday
These little birds are the one of the world's smallest ducks. For thousands of years the birds lived in a world without predators. Even birds with tiny wings could breed successfully. Eventually, they evolved into this unique species of flightless teal found nowhere else on Earth. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our Campbell Island teal living alongside our Antipodes Island parakeets in The Islands habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Their preferred habitat consists of savannas, both open and more densely vegetated, which give cheetahs the open areas they need for quick stalks and chases.
Age: Around 7 years in the wild, 10 to 15 years in captivity.
Cheetahs are known for being the fastest animal on four legs, certainly classed as the sprinters of the cat world. They are capable of reaching speeds of up to 110km per hour, but can only sustain this speed for approximately 500m before needing to take a long rest to recover. Cheetahs make a unique, bird-like sound called a 'chirrup' when they are excited. Mother cheetahs also use the same sound to call their cubs. They can purr, growl, snarl, hiss, cough, moan, and bleat, but cheetahs cannot roar like lions or tigers do. Cheetahs purr very loudly when they are content, the only big cat that can do so. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: Our cheetah brothers, Anubis and Osiris, go on walks every day with their keepers before the Zoo opens.
Encounter: 10.15am Sunday and public holidays
Age: The life span of a chicken varies between 5-7 years.
The Zoo has a number of chickens including buff orpingtons, silky bantams and pekin bantams. We collect their eggs every day and give them to the Auckland Zoo stores team, who then give those eggs to other animal sections like Primates. They are fed chicken pellets, bread, peas, lettuce, corn and apple. They love watermelon, which is a good way to get fluid into them.
Habitat: Chimpanzees are found in west and central Africa, from Senegal to Tanzania. They live in forests, mixed savannah, and woodland territories.
Age: 35-40 years (in captivity they may live to 60).
Chimpanzees are our closest animal relatives - we share over 98% of our genetic structure with them, and much of our social behaviour is uncannily like theirs. They are the only other animals that make tools. Like humans, chimpanzees have opposable thumbs, which help them to grasp branches, and they have fingernails and toenails. Communication between chimpanzees is very complex and involves facial and hand gestures and vocalisations. Gestures include hand clapping, grooming and kissing. Conservation status: Endangered. Janie was hand-raised and performed in "tea-parties" during the 1950s. Thankfully, zoos do not continue with this anymore, instead concentrating on species breeding and conservation.
Some facts about ours: Our much-loved chimpanzee Janie has passed away, aged 60 years. Janie was highly intelligent, cheeky, funny and wise, and in her 57 years here, connected with millions of visitors, was treasured by Zoo staff, and loved by many. We will greatly miss 'our wise old lady'.
Habitat: This species of bearded dragon is found in the open woodlands of the coastal areas of Eastern Australia.
Bearded dragons get their name from distinct spiny scales that are around the throat. When threatened they puff up and expose these spiny scales in an attempt to ward off predators or other males. Males will compete for females during breeding season, which generally commences when the temperatures begin to increase. Females dig a hole to deposit between 8-24 eggs, before burying them. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo's coastal bearded dragons can be found basking on sunny days at Reptile Row. There is also a bearded dragon at KidZone.
Age: 20-30 years in captivity and approximately 18 years in the wild.
Peacock is the layman's term for the common peafowl. Although technically only the male of the species can be called a peacock, the female is known as a peahen. The male of the species is one of the biggest flirts in the animal kingdom and is often observed strutting through parklands with its tail feathers erect, however if that doesn't get your attention they will often emit loud raucous calls as well. The common peafowl's diet consists mainly of seeds, grains, grasses, berries, roots and small insects. The peafowl will lay four to six eggs at a time, which are then incubated for 28 days. Development in peafowl chicks is slow and they will often not obtain their full plumage until they are three to five years old. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: The peacocks that the Zoo holds are free-ranging.
Habitat: Cotton top tamarins are arboreal (tree dwelling) in wet tropical forests (rain forests) or dry thorn forests. They are now found only in northern Colombia in rainforests where they live in the mid-lower levels of the forest.
Age: Cotton-top tamarins have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
These primates live in family groups of about 15 animals, restricted to the Colombian territory. Tamarins are monogamous animals, so they mate for life. Females dominate the tamarin society and only one female has babies at a time in each group. The male cares for the babies: he is even there to assist at the birth and looks after them throughout the early stages. Conservation status: Critically endangered.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo has an all male group of cotton-top tamarins living in The Tropics.
Habitat: Native to south-eastern Australia, from southern Queensland to western Victoria, with an outlying population at Mt. Lofty in South Australia. They are usually found around large rock outcrops, sheltering in crevices or under large slabs of rock.
Cunningham skinks are omnivores, these lizards eat a variety of insects and plants. Armoured and ready with a covering of hard, bony scales and a habit of wedging itself into rock cracks when threatened. By inflating its lungs, the lizard makes its body appear bigger and the scales stand out. A spiny tail completes the armour and is used to protect other vital parts of the body. Cunningham skinks often live in large groups (colonies) in areas of granite rock. The family will have a distinct territory, which they defend against other intruding skinks and even have their own special latrine area!
Age: May be in excess of 20 years.
The largest of the blue tongue family and one of the world's biggest skinks, it grows up to 55cms long. Insects, snails, carrion and plants are all eaten by this omnivore. A wide-open mouth, a show of bright blue tongue and a hissing noise is this lizard's way of protecting itself.
Habitat: Water dragons are native to eastern Australia, ranging from Victoria to Queensland. They live in the bush around creeks, rivers and lakes.
Water dragons are fast runners, strong climbers and excellent swimmers! When they feel threatened, they may drop from an over-hanging brance into water, and can stay on the bottom for up to 90 minutes.
Habitat: The emu lives in woodlands, scrublands and desert throughout Australia.
Age: Lives to around 10 years.
The emu is the second largest bird in the world, growing up to 2m tall and weighing 45kg. It can run up to 50km an hour but is unable to fly. Australian farmers often view the emu as a menace for destroying their crops, but without a strong wild emu population, farmers would be facing an even bigger pest - insect swarms! Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: For an up close and personal experience, Auckland Zoo has an "Aussie Walkabout" where visitors can walk through the emu exhibit!
Encounter: 3.15pm - Public holidays
Habitat: The Galapagos tortoise prefers arid terrain with grassland alternating with high volcanic plains with abundant water and vegetation.
Age: Can live more than 150 years.
Galapagos tortoises live on a group of islands called the Galapagos off the west coast of South America. These huge animals are threatened in the wild by fire and introduced predators such as feral dogs and pigs. They evolved with no need for speed, as the Galapagos Islands have no native predators for the tortoises. A full-grown Galapagos tortoise can weigh 260kg, so it takes five Zoo staff to lift one tortoise. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: All of our tortoises are relatively young, most are between 35 and 40 years of age. For a species that can live for over 120 years, they are barely even adults!
Encounter: 1.15pm Saturday and Sunday
Habitat: Giant kōkopu prefer shallow, swampy forest creeks near the sea, with plenty of shade. Once common in our waterways, over-fishing and loss of habitat have reduced their numbers. Introduced brown trout also eat them and steal their food.
There's only one giant kōkopu in our tank because they don't like company. They are territorial and aggressive and will fight off any other kōkopu that trespass on their stretch of river. If they survive to maturity the giant kōkopu can grow to a huge 58cm and 2.7kg! Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our giant kōkopu in The Night, in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Giraffes are found in arid and dry-savannah zones south of the Sahara, wherever trees occur.
Age: Up to 26 years in the wild or 28 years in captivity.
They are the tallest mammals in the world, with some measuring up to 6m. Although giraffes walk slowly, their walking stride is over 4.5m, so they cover long distances at a time. Their long necks are key to reach their food, as they browse from the tops of trees. The hair on a giraffe's tail is 10 to 20 times thicker than human hair. Each giraffe's pattern is a unique "fingerprint", it's colours work as a camouflage, helping the giraffes blend with the world around them. A newborn giraffe is 1.6m tall; it needs to be this tall to reach its mother's milk. Calves can stand up as quickly as one hour after they are born. This is vital in the wild, as vulnerable animals are the first target of predators.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo currently holds five giraffes, Zabulu (male), Rukiya (female), Kiraka (female), Shira (female) and Mdomo (female) who live in Pridelands with zebra, ostrich and springbok. Zabulu is a Rothschild's giraffe, a sub-species of giraffe that is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Go here to view a video of Zabulu, our male giraffe, being fed.
Encounter: 11.15am Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 1.15pm Wednesday.
Habitat: The green and gold bell frog is a native to Australia, and is threatened in the wild due to habitat destruction. The habitat preferred by this creature is amongst the vegetation on the edge of ponds and streams.
The fingers of most frogs are webbed, which provides them with an excellent swimming ability, but very poor climbing skills. However, only the hind legs of this frog are webbed, meaning that they are both an excellent swimmer and an excellent climber! This frog is notorious for its distinctive croaking, which sounds like a motorcycle changing gears. Only the male croaks and this normally occurs at night. As a tadpole, the frog will mainly eat algae, but as it morphs into a frog this diet will slowly change to insects such as mosquitoes. When the frog is fully-grown, they have been recorded as cannibalistic, eating other small frogs! Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our green and gold bell frogs outside KidZone!
Habitat: Golden lion tamarins are only found in the lowland forests of Brazil. Only 2 to 3 per cent of the golden lion tamarins' original rainforest habitat is still in existence.
Age: In the wild, they will live for approximately fifteen years, whereas in captivity they can live for up to twenty years.
With a silky, golden mane around this monkey's head, it is aptly named! However, this beautiful coat is one of the main reasons for its demise. This tamarin is one of the most endangered animals in the world because it is hunted by poachers, and has had over 95% of its habitat destroyed for plantations. Conservation status: Endangered.
Habitat: Flamingos are found in Central and South America, the West Indies and the Galapagos Islands. Their habitat ranges from coastal salt lagoons to brackish or saltwater shallows. Flamingos may live around lakes far inland or near the sea.
Age: 20 to 30 years; up to 50 years is not unusual.
Cartenoid pigments, found naturally in a variety of plants and animals provide flamingos with their pink colouring. Like us, when they relax weight is put more on one leg than the other. Very social, flamingo flocks may number up to tens of thousands. Flamingos are able to breed by the age of six. A single white egg is laid and cared for by both parents. Young are able to fly at around 78 days. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: We have 16 greater flamingos (eight male and eight female) who live in Pridelands.
Habitat: Warm, fairly dry and open habitat with scattered shrubs and trees such as savannah or farmland.
Age: Approximately 15 years.
A guineafowl's plumage is gray-black spangled with white. They have an unfeathered head, decorated with a dull yellow or reddish bony knob, and red and blue patches of skin. They are capable of flight, but prefer to spend most of their time on the ground. These birds are terrestrial, and prone to run rather than fly when alarmed. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: You'll see our guineafowl free-ranging around Pridelands.
Habitat: Desert and dry, grassy areas
Hamadryas baboons are very social animals and spend hours grooming each other and communicate in many different ways, such as calls, scents, and gestures. Mature males are a silvery-grey colour and have a distinctive mane around their head. Females look very different to males they have no mane, are a brownish colour, and are only half the size. Conservation status: Least concern.
Encounter: 2pm Wednesday and Friday
Habitat: Hippos have an essential requirement for water and are never found very far away from bodies of water. Short grasslands, next to lakes or rivers, are their preferred habitat. During the night they will graze in these grasslands and during they day they will wallow in the rivers and wetlands.
Age: 40 to 50 years.
Hippos can stay underwater for at least five minutes. They close their earflaps as they go underwater. Hippos cannot float, heavy muscles weigh them down, so they either walk along the bottom or paddle to stay afloat. A hippo's mouth can open up to 150 degrees; this makes an awesome sight and an even better bucket for scooping up and throwing water at other hippos. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: We have Faith and Fudge, the mother/son team who share Hippo River.
Habitat: Pūpūrangi live in moist native forests in Northland. Despite the name, they don’t actually live near kauri trees as the soil around kauri is too dry.
These snails belong to the oldest family of land snails on earth, dating back 200 million years. New Zealand has about 1500 different snail species, from very tiny to these gigantic kauri snails. Although they look gentle, kauri snails are carnivores who feast on earthworms, insects, and other snails. They have hundreds of small sharp teeth that grind up their prey.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our kauri snails in The Night habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Age: Can live up to 15 years in the wild.
The cheeky, inquisitive nature of the world’s only mountain parrot is well-known throughout New Zealand. Highly intelligent and social, they learn from their parents and from experience. They love the challenge of taking things apart, which can be a problem if they take a liking to your car or motorbike! Despite its cleverness and ingenuity, the Kea is struggling to overcome major threats to its survival. In the wild, almost half of all eggs are eaten by cats, stoats, ferrets and possums. Kea are particularly vulnerable because they nest in holes in the ground that are easy to find and raid. Food is often presented to them in unusual ways, such as floating on a stream, or dangling from a branch. In this way, the Zoo staff are providing enrichment for these charismatic birds. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our kea living in The High Country habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Kunekune, the Maori name for this species of pig, means fat and round. Kunekune enjoy the company of people. Like a dog, they enjoy a good scratch. And in summer, a roll in muddy water. This creates a natural sunscreen.
Some facts about ours: Our kunekune pigs, Alma and Neena, go for walks every day with their keepers.
Habitat: Leopard tortoises are found in southern and eastern Africa. They reside in the savannas and woodlands, from Ethiopia to South Africa. These tortoises favour a semi-arid, thorny habitat.
Age: Average lifespan is 75 years.
The leopard tortoise is the second largest African mainland tortoise. Females are bigger than males, and weigh up to 45kg. Grasses and succulents are favourite foods. Their striking shell pattern provides excellent camouflage from predators in their grassland habitat. Females reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 years old and can lay up to 30 eggs at a time. Incubation time varies according to temperature.
Habitat: They breed on coasts and offshore islands all around the country from the North Island to Stewart Island, and out to the Chatham Islands.
The little penguin (kororā) (also known as the little blue penguin) is the smallest penguin in the world, standing just 25cm tall and weighing a little over 1kg. Their feathers are blue and they have a bright white belly. Little penguins only come ashore at night, and they live underground in burrows, natural holes, or under human structures and buildings. They have a wide range of calls, including mewing like a cat, loud screams, trumpeting and deep-toned growls. Little blue penguin populations are declining in areas that aren’t protected from predators. Where predator control is in place, populations have been stable or increasing. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: Our 9 little penguins are all rescue animals, their names are Marlin, Coral, Dory, Moki, Koura, Mako, Ari, Kingi and Tai.
Encounter: 2.30pm Monday, Friday and public holidays. 3.30pm Wednesday.
Habitat: Arid open plains around the Kalahari Desert, commonly with hard or stony ground.
Age: Approximately 10 years, up to 12 years in captivity.
Meerkats are a member of the mongoose family, which are mainly found in Africa. Meerkats live in one of the world's harshest environments - the desert. Water is scarce, so they rarely drink. They instead find moisture in roots, plants and insects. Living in underground burrows is cooler and provides some protection from predators. Colonies may number from 10 to 30 animals. Emphasis is on teamwork and cooperation - this is how the group survives. Sharing and caring, everyone does their duty. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: We have a very interesting enclosure where our young and adventurous visitors can clamber along their own tunnels, popping up inside the meerkat enclosure at perspex bubble points.
Encounter: 12.30pm Monday
Habitat: One of the most familiar sounds in our night forests is the haunting call of the rūrū, or morepork. It is New Zealand's only surviving native owl.
The morepork is a silent hunter. Its soft wing feathers make no sound as it swoops down on its prey. Its head turns almost in a complete circle, and with keen hearing and big yellow eyes, it can detect even the slightest movement. The morepork's sharp talons can grab beetles, weta, lizards, rats and even other birds far larger than itself. The female nests in tree holes and seldom leaves during breeding season. She is vulnerable to predators such as stoats and possums. Eggs and chicks are also preyed on by rats. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our rūrū living in The Night habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Encounter: Impromptu - listen for P.A. announcements
Habitat: The New Zealand brown teal, or pāteke, is found only in New Zealand. Fossil records show it was the most common wetland bird before humans arrived. It has been badly affected by the loss of forests and wetlands, and the arrival of predators.
Now the brown teal is restricted to Great Barrier Island, coastal valleys of eastern Northland, and several protected areas. The Brown Teal Recovery group has been established to help the recovery of brown teal populations and habitats. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: Nobody wants to see the New Zealand brown teal disappear, so the Zoo has joined a recovery project to rescue it from extinction. About 200 brown teal bred in captivity are now released into predator free environments each year.
Habitat: The New Zealand dotterel is an endangered bird that is found only in New Zealand. NZ dotterels are shorebirds, usually found on sandy beaches and sandspits or feeding on tidal estuaries.
Once common, there are only about 1700 birds left. This serious decline in numbers is due to a combination of habitat loss, disturbance during breeding and introduced pests including cats, stoats and hedgehogs. NZ dotterels can be hard to see, because their colouring merges effectively with the background of sand, shells and dune vegetation in their environment. Because they are so hard to see, their nests can be crushed by people, vehicles and animals. Their distinctive 'chip-chip' call is often heard before the birds are seen. Two or three well-camouflaged eggs are laid in a scrape in the sand, commonly among shells and driftwood just above the high tide mark. Conservation status: Endangered.
Habitat: New Zealand fur seals range throughout New Zealand, and around western and southern Australia. The main colonies are found around the coast of the South Island and Stewart Island, as well as on many of the offshore islands.
Age: Around 15 years.
Male fur seals can grow up to 1.6m long and can weigh 200kgs. That is four times heavier than females, who often weigh as little as 50kgs. Fur seals were hunted extensively when New Zealand was first colonised, depleting the population severely. Now they are fully protected, although marine litter and commercial fisheries still pose a threat due to entanglement and ingestion. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo is sometimes asked to rehabilitate New Zealand fur seals that are unable to survive in the wild. The Zoo is currently home to three New Zealand fur seals - two males, Kaiako and Atamai and a female, Moana.
Encounter: 3.30pm Monday and Saturday
The grey teal, or tētē, is the smallest of New Zealand's ducks. Only the female quacks. The male makes a soft “preep” sound. Grey teal are at their most vocal when in a flock. Flocks are usually made up of less than 50 birds, but these can swell to over 1000 in autumn. The grey teal often nests in rabbit burrows, or holes in trees – definitely not your average duck!
Some facts about ours: You'll find our New Zealand grey teal living in The Wetlands habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: The lesser short-tailed bat is an ancient species unique to New Zealand and is found only at a few scattered sites.
Bats are New Zealand's only native land mammals. It is listed by the Department of Conservation as a 'species of highest conservation priority'. These tiny bats are just over 6cm in total length, and weigh only 12-20g. They have velvety speckled dark brown fur and a wingspan of about 28cm. They can fly, but prefer to forage for insects on the forest floor, sometimes disappearing completely under the leaf litter in their search for prey. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: Our New Zealand lesser short-tailed bats live in The Night, in Te Wao Nui.
On the lake you'll see several different types of duck, and they are all special in some way. The New Zealand scaup, or papango, is an expert diver. Its legs are positioned towards the back of its body which makes them clumsy on land but strong swimmers. This little duck can hold its breath for 20 seconds while it dives to a depth of 2–3m in search of fresh water snails and aquatic plants. Conservation status: Least concern.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our New Zealand scaup living in The Wetlands habitat in Te Wao Nui.
The kūkupa is also known as kūkū, and kererū. Our largest forest bird, kūkupa play an important role in forest regeneration by spreading tree seeds. Kūkupa can swallow large seeds whole, which pass through them undigested. These seeds are spread across the forest floor, along with a bit of manure to help them grow! Kūkupa numbers are declining due to competition for food and predation by possums and rats. Because of their important role in spreading seeds, the disappearance of the kūkupa would be a disaster for our native forests. Conservation status: Near threatened.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our kūkupa living with many other New Zealand birds in The Forest habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Encounter: 1.30pm - NZ birds (meet at the Lookout) - Tuesday and Thursday
Habitat: In wooded areas near water throughout North America.
The name is loosely translated as ‘a water bird in bridal dress’. Males have plumage of many colours during the breeding season. They are omnivores - typically eating seeds, plants, insects, crabs and fish. The numbers of North American wood ducks are declining in the wild due to hunters who see them as a beautiful prize and their wooded habitat being destroyed.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our North American wood ducks in the pond near the Band Rotunda (across from the Willow Island castle).
Habitat: Kiwi live in damp dense native forests and shrub land. They are nocturnal - sleeping during the day in burrows or hollow logs.
Age: The expected lifespan of brown kiwis after the first twelve months of their life is approximately 20 years in the wild. When in captivity, these birds usually live to be 30 years old, but some have lived up to 40 years.
The kiwi is only found in New Zealand. It is related to larger flightless birds, like the ostrich and, unlike the strong, stiff feathers of flying birds, its feathers are soft. One third of the kiwi's weight is contained in its legs, which makes it a fast runner and means it has a formidable kick. The kiwi has evolved in New Zealand, where there are no natural predators. However, it is now fighting for its place in the planet, as it has no defences to protect it from possums, cats, rats, stoats and weasels that eat eggs and young. Dogs and pigs also attack larger kiwis. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo is proud to be part of a kiwi rehabilitation programme called Operation Nest Egg (ONE). This programme involves taking kiwi eggs from the wild and hatching them in captivity, before reintroducing the bird into its original habitat. The scheme is a big success, with Auckland Zoo successfully rearing over 250 kiwi chicks. You'll find our kiwi living in The Night habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: The boisterous kākā was once abundant in forests throughout New Zealand. Similar to its cousin the kea in size and behaviour, kākā has distinctive dark reddish plumage.
Age: Can live up to 20+ years.
The kākā has some special features - a brush-like tongue for collecting nectar and a strong beak which they use like a third leg for climbing trees. Their robust beaks can open the tough cone of the kauri and dig out grubs from logs. Flocks of kākā gather on Rangitoto Island in early summer to feed on pōhutukawa blossoms. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo maintains and coordinates the captive breeding programme for kākā. Offspring bred here are often reintroduced to the wild. You'll find our kākā living in The Forest habitat in Te Wao Nui.
The gecko's eyelids are permanently closed, but transparent. If an eyelid gets dirty, the gecko simply licks it clean! When it feeds, this gecko creeps up on an insect then makes a sudden grab with its huge mouth.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our Northland green geckos in The Islands in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Ostriches are found in central and southern Africa. They live in the open, arid areas of savannah and desert.
Age: Between 30 and 40 years.
The ostrich is the largest bird in the world and, unsurprisingly, it lays the biggest eggs. The average egg size is a huge 15cms, the same as 24 hen's eggs. With long legs, long neck and large eyes, the ostrich has a natural ability to spot oncoming predators. For this reason, ostriches are often found grazing alongside zebras and springboks in the wild.
Some facts about ours: We have three ostrich who live in Pridelands, two females, Tajo and Nomami and one male, Fluffy.
Millions of years ago, New Zealand was home to some huge reptiles, including giant crocodiles! The largest lizard now is the harmless Otago skink. Active during the daytime, the Otago skink is quicker and more agile than its nocturnal cousins. It uses hearing, smell and vision to seek out prey, catching small insects with a long, sticky, slightly notched tongue. Not a fussy eater, this skink will also eat spilt fish and stomach oil at seabird colonies. They even eat other lizards! Like many other New Zealand animals, these skinks evolved in a world without predators. When cats, rats and stoats were introduced, the skinks had no defences. Conservation staff have come to their rescue with mammal-proof fences and predator traps. Helped by a captive breeding program, the population is slowly increasing. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our otago skinks in The High Country habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Paradise shelducks, or pūtangitangi, breed only in New Zealand and are found throughout the mainland and offshore islands. They are often seen in grasslands and open pastures.
Unusually for ducks, the female is more eye-catching than the male. Females have a pure white head and chestnut-coloured body, while males have a dark grey body and black head. This is one of only a few native species to have flourished since humans started converting forests and wetlands into pasture.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our paradise shelduck living in The Wetlands habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Auckland Zoo has two species of wallaby; the parma wallaby and the red-necked wallaby. Both enjoy areas of scrubland or open forest.
Age: Both sub-species at the Zoo live between 10 and 15 years.
Wallabies are marsupials (mammals with pouches which hold their developing young). Wallabies move around by hopping - their strong back legs propel them forward and they use their tail for balance. The parma wallaby is the smallest member of the genus, and is only one-tenth the size of the largest surviving member, the red kangaroo. Conservation status: Near threatened.
Encounter: 3.15pm - Public holidays
Habitat: The pygmy marmoset or dwarf monkey is a New World monkey native to the rainforest canopies of western Brazil, southeastern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru, and northern Bolivia.
It is one of the smallest primates, and the smallest true monkey, with its body length ranging from 14 to 16 cms (excluding the 15cm to 20cm tail). Males weigh around 140 grams, and females only 120 grams.
Some facts about ours: As part of the international breeding programme, our female pygmy marmoset, June, came from UK's Twycross Zoo, and our male, Pedro, came from Mogo Zoo, Australia.
Age: Captive lorikeets can live in excess of 20 years.
What do the possum, wasps, rats, koi, rabbits, privet and woolly nightshade all have in common? Each is a species of animal or plant accidentally or deliberately introduced into New Zealand. Some of these have already had a devastating impact on our native animals and habitats. Now we have the rainbow lorikeet, which have recently been deliberately released in the Auckland area. Nobody knows what impact they will have, but what we do know is frightening! A pair can produce up to nine chicks a season, so there will soon be lots of them. In Australia, flocks of up to 100 are common. Lorikeets are very aggressive and eat many of the same foods tui, bellbirds and stitchbirds eat. Like many of our native birds, including kaka, stitchbird and kakariki, lorikeet nest in hollow logs or tree holes.
Some facts about ours: Our lorikeet encounters give you the opportunity to feed nectar to our colourful rainbow lorikeets in our Australian bird walkthrough aviary.
Encounter: Impromptu - listen for P.A announcements.
Habitat: Native forest on offshore islands and scattered areas in both the North and South Islands.
During the 1800s, red crowned parakeets were common across New Zealand. Sometimes flocks would feed on grain and fruit crops, so farmers shot thousands to protect their harvests. Together with the destruction of their old-growth forest habitat, this almost led to their extinction. Nesting in holes in trees, rocks and soil, females and chicks are vulnerable to predators such as rats and stoats, as there is no escape route. Although considered extinct on the mainland, the red-crowned parakeet is now common on pest-free islands. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: To get a close up view of a red-crowned kākāriki, visit The Forest habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Common in the more temperate and fertile parts of eastern Australia, including Tasmania.
Wallabies are marsupials - mammals with a pouch where young are suckled and protected. Females can often be caring for three young at once, in the womb, in the pouch and at her feet (outside the pouch). Young wallabies escape danger by taking a somersault dive into mum's pouch.
Encounter: 3.15pm - Public holidays
Habitat: Red pandas live only in temperate forests in the Himalayan foothills from western Nepal through northern Burma and in the mountains of south-western China. They live at altitudes of between 4900 and 13,000 feet, in forests with dense bamboo growth.
Age: 14 years, but the average is eight to ten.
Red pandas have features of bears, cats and raccoons. This makes the species hard to classify - it is not even grouped with the giant panda. Red pandas are threatened because of the loss of their natural habitat. Where they live, the human population is growing fast. This leads to over population of the pandas' forest home, which is being destroyed for farms and for firewood. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: The number of red pandas is slowly increasing in captivity in a co-ordinated worldwide captive breeding programme. Auckland Zoo is part of this important programme and we have raised many young in the last few years.
Encounter: 2pm Tuesday
Habitat: Lemurs live in Madagascar, an island off the eastern coast of Africa. Ring-tailed lemurs inhabit open scrubby areas in the north and south of the island.
Age: 20 years.
Males rub their scent glands along their tails and waft them at each other over access to the females. The striped tails are used for balance, to help carry their special smell and to make sure they do not lose sight of each other on the forest floor, as ring-tailed lemurs spend more time walking along the ground than other lemur species. It is a female-dominated society; males have to wait while the ladies drink and eat first, and it is the females who get to choose their partner. Conservation status: Near threatened.
Some facts about ours: We have a tight-knit group of lemurs at Auckland Zoo. We have five females (Bekily, Toliara, Esira, Evatra and Manakara) and one male, Maarten.
Encounter: 12noon Friday
This is one of the largest species of skink in New Zealand. Once widespread throughout the North Island, it has been wiped out in most areas by introduced rats. It now survives only on a few islands off the east coast of the North Island. Robust skinks are nocturnal and prefer damp environments such as bird burrows, rotting logs, and thick vegetation. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our robust skinks living in The Night habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: The scheltopusik can be found from southern Europe to central Asia and prefers open land such as short grasslands.
Age: About 20 years in the wild, but there have been reports of individuals living up to 50 years in capitivity.
Despite their appearance, they are not snakes but in fact legless lizards. They can be identified by their ears, eyelids, and in some cases small rudimentary legs, which are features not possessed by snakes. The end of their body is a tail, which is capable of dropping off when an individual is threatened.
Some facts about ours: Our scheltopusik, 'Shelto' can be found in Reptile Row during the warmer months, but is off display during winter.
Habitat: Servals inhabit plains and forests of northern Africa, mainly living in tall grass savannah areas, and generally near streams with densely vegetated banks.
Age: Lifespan is 12 to 17 years, or up to 19 years in captivity.
Long legs allow the Serval to spy on its prey over the top of long grasses. They have large erect ears that work like antennae to pick up the rustle of prey. Both spots and stripes provide camouflage in the dappled shade of long grasses. Nocturnal hunters, servals have excellent eyesight. In poor light, they can see six times better than you can. Servals often catch birds by flushing them from tall grass. They can leap 3m in the air to bring them down. That's as high as a basketball hoop! Serval cats are active hunters.
Some facts about ours: Zoo staff encourage these servals to hunt by hiding meat and whole food in cracks and crevices high up around the enclosure. They also encourage play behaviours with a number of enrichment ideas like attaching food to a cord that is pulled around so the cats can pounce on the food.
Habitat: Siamangs are found in the Malay Peninsular and on the island of Sumatra. Their habitat consists of deciduous monsoon and evergreen rainforests, usually at a height of 25 to 30 metres.
Age: Siamangs live about 35-40 years.
Siamang couples guard their territory with loud hooting duets. They announce their presence to avoid confrontation with other groups, and to increase their natural family bonds. Siamangs are the largest in the gibbon family (of which there are nine species) and a type of primate in the lesser ape group. They live in small family groups and the parents stay together for life. Siamang gibbon swing through treetops hand over hand: this is called brachiation. With their ability to rotate their shoulder sockets 360 degrees and their long, strong arms and extra long fingers, you can see how they have been designed for this sort of movement. Their legs are small and easily tuck out of the way as they swing through the branches. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: You can find our Siamang gibbons (Iwani and Kera) in the Rainforest. Click here to view a video of Iwani and Kera hooting!
The silvereye, or tahōu, is common in New Zealand’s native forests, vineyards, orchards, and many backyards. The silvereye’s distinctive nest is a cup of grass, bound with cobweb. It is usually suspended by the rim from a slender tree fork a couple of metres from the ground.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our silvereyes in The Forest habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: White rhinos inhabit the African grasslands or savannahs. They prefer open grasslands and floodplains.
Age: Up to 50 years.
At 1.8m height and 3.6 tonnes of weight, the white rhino is the largest of five rhino species and the third largest land animal. Their sense of smell is accurate and the main tool to find food, a mate, or checking for danger. They use scent marking as a way of communication, as well as grunts, snorts, bellows and whistles. Unlike elephant tusks, rhino horns are made of thousands of strands of very stiff hair. Conservation status: Near threatened.
Some facts about ours: We currently have three male rhinos, Zambezi and his two sons Inkosi and Mtoto.
Habitat: Spider monkeys live in mature, tall rainforest habitats, where they prefer the middle to upper layers of vegetation.
Age: Spider monkeys will live for around 27 years in the wild and up to 33 years in captivity.
Spider monkeys have prehensile tails, which means tails can grip to branches, acting as an extra hand. The tail easily supports the monkey's weight - freeing up all four limbs for feeding. Thumbs would get in the way of swinging so they have developed without them. Spider monkeys live in highly flexible groups, or troops, ranging from six to forty individuals, with females normally outnumbering males two to one. The larger group will break up into sub-groups, which move independently to one another within the same wider territory area. Within each sub-group, females are recognised as leaders, moving in front of the group when in search of food, and deciding the route to be taken. Not all females are leaders, and only the leading females possess the knowledge of food source locations. Conservation status: Critically endangered.
Some facts about ours: Our sixteen spider monkeys (13 female and 3 male) live in The Rainforest.
Encounter: 12.30pm - Thursday. 2pm Saturday and public holidays
Habitat: Spotted shags nest in colonies of 10-700 pairs, these colonies are generally found on the ledges of coastal cliffs or on rocky islets.
Shags are expert flyers and streamlined underwater torpedoes. They can chase their prey underwater for up to three minutes!
Some facts about ours: Our spotted shags, Boswick and Austin, live in The Coast habitat with our little penguins.
Habitat: Springboks inhabit the dry, inland areas of southwestern Africa.
Age: Live to around 10 years of age.
Springboks graze mainly on young, tender grasses. However, they will search out shrubs, succulents, roots and bulbs to vary their diet. The springbok was traditionally the national symbol of South Africa under apartheid rule. Once it ended, the springbok was deemed the national animal instead.
Some facts about ours: Springboks do something incredibly unique called pronking. This is a repetitive jump in the air, similar to a human skipping.
Habitat: Squirrel monkeys live in the tropical forests of Central and South America.
Age: They can live to over 20 years in captivity.
Squirrel monkeys are extremely agile and fast. Unlike a spider monkey, their tail is not used for climbing, but as a kind of "balancing pole". They eat mainly fruit and insects but also invertebrates, flowers, leaves and seeds.
Some facts about ours: We have 10 Bolivian squirrel monkeys who live in The Rainforest.
Habitat: The Sub Antarctic fur seal is found on the Macquarie, Heard, Kerguelen and Prince Edward Islands. Wandering males are also seen occasionally in Australia, South African and New Zealand.
Sub Antarctic fur seals are short nosed with a distinctive facial 'mask' of black ringed eyes and a creamy orange coloured face. Adult males are usually darker than females, and have a dark crest on the top of the head that stands erect when they are excited. This species was hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century for its fur. Since being given protection by legislation, Sub Antarctic fur seals have started to colonise new locations and most populations are showing an increase in growth rates.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo currently holds one juvenile Sub Antarctic fur seal called 'Orua'. He was named after the place he was found and was brought back to health by the veterinary team. He was released back in to the wild when he was well enough but was found again in a regional park later. As he was not going to survive in the wild, he is now back in the Zoo and fully integrated with the Zoo's other sea lions.
Age: Can live up to 80 years in captivity.
These parrots flock together in their hundreds, but are also found in small family groups and pairs. They are not the quietest bird and are often identified by their harsh screeching. They have a diet of seeds, fruits, nuts, flowers, leaves, roots and insects. They are partial to raiding crops too, which makes them unwelcome visitors to the farm. They can sometimes be found in New Zealand after accidental releases or being blown off-course from Australia.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo's sulphur-crested cockatoo is called Captain. He has been hand-reared and is very fond of human contact. He has a wide vocabulary and has favourite keepers who look after him.
Habitat: Tigers live in a variety of habitats but require adequate cover to stalk or ambush their prey. Some tigers live at high altitudes in snowy mountain hardwood forests, while others live in monsoon or equatorial rainforests. Generally, tigers require dense cover, access to water, and sufficient large prey.
Age: About 15 to 20 years in the wild, up to 26 years in captivity
Tail twitching tells a tale, especially of the excitement of an impending hunt - this impulse still prevails in domestic cats. A tiger's night-time vision is six times better than that of a human, which helps these animals as they usually hunt at night. Stripes provide camouflage against the shadows of leaves so prey is often unaware of the stalking tiger. Unlike most cats, tigers are keen swimmers; they also use water as a way of cooling off. Conservation status: Critically endangered.
Some facts about ours: We currently have three Sumatran tigers, male Jaka, female Molek, and male Berani.
Encounter: 3pm Saturday and public holidays
Habitat: Takahē inhabit grasslands predominantly, using shrubs for shelter.
For years, takahē were thought to be extinct but were rediscovered in 1948, hidden deep in Fiordland's Murchison Mountains. Adult takahē are about the size of a large hen, 50 cm high and can weigh over 3 kg. Takahē have wings but are flightless. They only use them to display during courtship or as a show of aggression. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: We have a pair of takahē, Ahikaea and Montague, who live with our whio (blue duck) in The High Country habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Tuatara live in burrows in native forests but they also enjoy abandoned sheep pasture, where possible nesting sites may be more numerous. They can share burrows with seabirds, such as petrels and shearwaters.
Age: Tuatara grow very slowly and can live for a century or more.
Although many people think the tuatara is related to dinosaurs, its relatives actually lived around 200 million years ago, well before dinosaurs dominated the earth. They are reptiles, but will often choose a damp dark hollow rather than be out in the full heat of the day because they have an unusually low body temperature optimum. Tuatara means 'spiny back' in Maori, and they are easily identified by the distinctive ridge of spines down their backs.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our tuatara living in The Islands habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Tui are easily identified by the curled white tuft under their throat. The tui is one of New Zealand's most vocal song birds, the first to start at dawn and the last to fall quiet at dusk. Their melodic song combines clicks, whistles, and bell-like notes. Tui mimic the calls of other birds, and even human noises like cell phones! Tui feed mainly on nectar from native flowering plants. They love flax flowers and use their brush tipped tongues to reach the nectar deep in the long flowers.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our tui in The Forest habitat in Te Wao Nui.
The weka, or wood hen, is another special bird that lives only in New Zealand… and it’s just as feisty and curious as the kea. It can't fly, but it's a fast runner. Not fast enough though – the weka is quite easy to catch. Weka was an important food for Māori and European settlers alike, a large bird that was easy to catch. Weka have their favourite foods too - insects, snails, slugs, fruit and even mice, rats and young rabbits. They also eat the eggs and chicks of other birds, which is a problem for conservation staff. Their mission is to save all native birds, but helping the Weka can sometimes cause harm to other species. Adults mate for life and are territorial whereas younger ones travel widely. One marked bird transported from Gisborne to Hawke’s Bay later turned up back in Gisborne, having walked 130 km home! Weka are now rare in many places where they were once common, and are classed as a vulnerable species. They are under threat from a combination of predators and loss of habitat. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: You'll find our weka living alongside our kea in The High Country habitat in Te Wao Nui.
Habitat: Before the arrival of pests such as rats and stoats, wētā punga lived throughout Northland, Auckland, on Great Barrier and other islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
Age: Having achieved adulthood in 18-24 months, wētā punga commence breeding one to two months after maturity. The females will lay eggs throughout their life, generally producing between 100 and 300 cigar-shaped eggs. Wētā punga live for nine months after reaching maturity.
There are over 70 species of wētā unique to New Zealand, including 11 species of giant wētā, of which the wētā punga is the largest. Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Some facts about ours: You can find our wētā punga in The Night habitat in Te Wao Nui.
White-faced herons are the most common heron in New Zealand. This self-introduced species has been successful here partly because they can find food in almost any wetland environment. They eat a range of insects, koura, molluscs, tadpoles, frogs, and small reptiles.
Habitat: Rivers in the South Island and lower half of the North Island of New Zealand.
Age: They have an average lifespan of 7-8 years.
The blue duck is the only duck found up in the high country's turbulent streams. It is a strong swimmer and capable diver. A fleshy edged bill is used for catching insects, grubs and caddis fly larvae around boulders in the rapids. Mum is the one who looks after the four to eight eggs and chicks but Dad helps with the chicks. Conservation status: Endangered.
Some facts about ours: The whio is a threatened New Zealand species. Auckland Zoo is involved in a coordinated Department of Conservation breeding programme to provide young for release programmes.
Yellow crowned parakeets feed on seeds and fruit in old growth beech and podocarp forests. Every few years, beech forests produce huge quantities of seeds, known as beech mast. The abundant food supply provided in beech-mast years increases kākāriki breeding rates. Yellow crowned parakeet numbers have declined markedly since human occupation, mainly through loss of habitat and predation from stoats and rats. Populations are now slowly recovering due to pest eradication programs.
Habitat: Found on open grasslands and along the edge of desert from eastern Africa across to south-western Africa.
Age: Zebras can live for up to 25 years.
They are social animals and live in herds of between five and 15 animals. No two zebras are the same: like giraffes, the stripe patterns are unique to each animal. Zebras' stripes also help them camouflage in long grass, and the contrasting pattern may confuse attacking lions when a herd is attempting to escape. Zebras love to roll in mud and dust; this forms a natural mudpack, which shields against insects, heat and the wind. When the mud dries, they shake it off, along with loose hair and flakes of dry skin.
Some facts about ours: Auckland Zoo is a leader in providing suitable and stimulating enclosures for our animals. Our zebras share Pridelands with the ostriches and giraffes.
Habitat: Zebra finches make nests in many different locations; from scrub and bushes, to rabbit burrows and gaps in buildings.
While male zebra finches generally have bolder black and white markings under their chin, the most reliable sign of zebra finch gender is their beaks; males have red beaks and females have orange beaks. Although they are renowned for their loud rhythmic songs, it is only the male zebra finch who can sing. Males usually pass their song on to their offspring. Zebra finch beaks are specially adapted to remove the husks from seeds, their primary food.
Some facts about ours: Our zebra finches live in our Australian bird walk-through aviary.