More than 200 animals had to be moved out of Bristol Zoo Gardens’ reptile house to clear the way for a major make-over.
In the space of two days keepers had to transfer:
· 100 small African cichlids fish
· 24 Trinidad stream frogs and 60 tadpoles
· 10 turtles (Malaysian giant pond turtle, Vietnamese pond turtles, black marsh turtles and Chinese yellow-margined box turtles)
· Six large Asian arrowana, Hoeven’s carp and tinfoil barbs
· And two dwarf crocodiles
The 15 kilogram dwarf crocodiles were moved by coaxing them into wide corrugated plastic pipes more than one and a half metres long with wooden doors fitted at each end.
They each walked into the pipes calmly and remained inside until they were released into a temporary enclosure.
The Zoo’s gardening team then came in and removed around 200 plants as well as seven tonnes of soil.
The original enclosure was then remodelled by Weymouth-based Aquarium Technology Limited.
All 200 plants, along with eight tonnes of soil and two tonnes of gravel and sand, had to be moved in by hand because the doorways were too narrow to get wheelbarrows through.
Tim Skelton, curator of reptiles and amphibians, said the work, which cost £28,000 and took eight weeks, was very important.
He said: “The 40-year-old structure of the pond was beginning to deteriorate and the water quality was becoming more alkaline than we would like. Now we can control the water quality far better.
“The new plants have quite a bit of growing to do but all the animals have moved in and are all doing ok.”
He said he was now keen to develop the vivariums around the Reptile House.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.