Beating the heat: How Auckland Zoo's new arrivals are faring over summer

Auckland Zoo's new arrivals are spending their first summer at the zoo after making their way over from as far away as Italy.

The zoo's animal population grew in 2018, including two lions, six monkeys and dozens of lizards, to more than 1000 animals.

Newshub visited the zoo during the height of summer to see how everyone was doing.

The return visitors


Zulu and Malik were born at the zoo in 2004 to female lions Kura and Amira, who had to be euthanized in 2018 due to old age.

Carnivore keeper Torey Stevens told Newshub Zulu and Malik have very distinct different personalities.

"Zulus our dominant of the two... He's a bit more grumbly especially around food, he's a bit like hurry up and give me my food while Malik's a bit of a big sook.

"[Malik] comes in the morning head rubs up against the mesh saying hello to us which is really nice and it's quite nice that we have that complete polar opposites."

The pair can usually be seen lazing about on a grassy hill in their enclosure, but if they need to there's plenty of shade as well.

"We do offer them cold things, we offer them ice blocks and also just different shaded areas in the exhibit that they can use to get out of the sun.

"Most of the time they'll be out in the sun anyway. They seem to quite like it and it doesn't seem to bother them too much."

The boys do have a moat around their enclosure, but visitors are unlikely to ever see them taking a dip in it.

"They tend to ignore the moat more because our moat is a form of containment," Mr Stevens said.

"The lions naturally... don't like it so they'll tend to avoid it. The only thing we ever see them do from it is drink, and then occasionally look at some of the fish in the moat but they tend to ignore those."

A monkey with a baby climbing on its face.
Mrs Nuri with one of the babies. Photo credit: Grace Watson/Auckland Zoo

The cheeky callitrichidae


The zoo received two cotton-top tamarins and two emperor tamarins in 2018. Both monkeys come from the callitrichidae family and are typically found in South America.

Emperor tamarins Ladino and Pacino came to Auckland from Perth Zoo as part of a cooperative programme in the Australasian region.

But in the wild they would be living in the southwest Amazonian lowland forest, so they're pretty well equipped for the heat.

"They are well adapted for a hot humid climate," primates team leader Amy Robbins told Newshub.

"In this enclosure here we've got lots of shade which they utilise. We've got hollow logs which they can go into, there's a sprinkler that comes on at various times of the day.

"Sometimes we'll give them small ice blocks with the like natural fruit tea in it or something like that."

Ms Robbins said the next step would be to get a girl emperor tamarin and one should be making its way to the zoo shortly.

Cotton-top tamaruins Mr and Ms Nuri arrived from Germany and Italy, and welcomed twin babies in June. All four are doing well, although sometimes Mr Nuri goes a little too far.

"[Mr Nuri's] a bit more standoffish but he's an amazing dad. He's been super helpful, almost too helpful at times with Mrs Nuri wanting to carry the babies all the time," Ms Robbins said.

" Mrs Nuri is fantastic, she's just a little bit more chilled out. She's a great mum she cooperates when we need her to. We can weigh her and they go into crates when we want to."

Ms Robbins said it's important to point out cotton-top tamarins are critically endangered in the wild, a large factor of this being deforestation.

She said people can help by looking for sustainable wood products, especially in summer when its time to get more outdoor furniture or decking.

"Choose a [wood] product that has the Forest Stewardship Council label which is FSC or there's another one PFC which just means that it's come from a more sustainable source. The other thing people can do is to donate to our wild work or our conservation fund."

A baby lace monitor lizard on a keepers hand, it's black and yellow.
A baby lace monitor lizard on a keepers hand. Photo credit: Grace Watson/Auckland Zoo

The Australian imports 


Auckland Zoo has plenty of adult lace monitors, boys Ned and Alf and females Damo, Irene, Opal and Sheila.

But over the past year they've welcomed dozens more after some successful breeding. The ones Newshub saw were tiny, but they're grow to up to two metres long with a nasty bite.

Ectotherms team leader Don Mcfarlane told Newshub he wouldn't go so far as to call them vicious though.

"Vicious is never a word I would use to describe an animal, arguably only humans are vicious. They do things out of sheer cruelty in mind."

Lace monitors are usually found in eastern Australia and in Auckland one of the tricky things for the babies is keeping the temperature and humidity just right.

"It is 28 degrees in [the room the babies are kept] and pretty damn humid too," Mr McFarlane said.

"The thing about reptiles is you've got to try and mimic the environment the wild environment as much as possible and we go to great lengths and expense to achieve that."

But it turns out in the wild lace monitors work pretty hard themselves to get the temperature spot on.

"The female will lay her eggs in a termite mound, and termite mounds are famous for many things one being the way in which they regulate temperature at various points within the structure," Mr Mcfarlane said.

"Lace monitors will lay their eggs at a certain point in the termite mounds so as to guarantee optimal hatching and then she comes back...and excavates them in time for hatching."