Over one hundred Tarantulas arrived at Wellington Zoo today, after winging their way from Wales.
The 106 eight-legged insect-eaters are destined for distribution to zoos nationwide, with 44 remaining at Wellington Zoo.
“We’re aiming to establish a self-sustaining population of Tarantulas in containment facilities in New Zealand,” explained Collections Development Manager, Simon Eyre. “Breeding groups will be scattered around the country – which will allow us to go a number of generations without inbreeding.”
While the thought of so many large spiders, some of which can grow from the size of a palm to as big as a dinner plate, alarming for some, Mr Eyre is quick to provide reassurance.
“Tarantulas wouldn’t survive without human care and artificial climate control inNew Zealand – they need to be kept in temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius all year around,” he explained. “With our climate, that’s simply just not going to happen.”
The Tarantulas being imported are pretty harmless, and it would be rare for them to bite humans.
“They eat small insects like crickets, some of the bigger species may eat small mammals such as mice,” said Mr Eyre. “They use their venom to liquefy the insides of insects, so they can suck them out. If they were to bite humans, it would just feel like a bee sting. “
“These Tarantulas will allow us to help visitors make a real connection with invertebrates, and understand the importance of the role they play in our ecosystem. We’re excited that visitors will be able to see them up close and gain a real appreciation for their beauty.”
A second smaller shipment of 30 Tarantulas is due later in the year, with 12 to stay at Wellington Zoo. The Tarantulas will be on display from early 2013.