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Sensory lizard encounter for NextSense students

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo hits the road to celebrate World Lizard Day!  

Han the blotched blue-tongue lizard, Speckles the shingleback skink and keepers Emily and Holly, from WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, took to the road, bound for NextSense School. There, students with sensory disabilities, from three programs; Blind and DefBlind, Sign Bilingual and Spoken Language, were excited and ready to have a tactile and educational animal encounter, in celebration of World Lizard Day, Sunday 14 August.

The event was organised for Merlin’s Magic Wand, a charity run by Merlin Entertainments, the parent organisation of attractions including WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Sydney and Sydney Tower Eye. The program looks for opportunities to bring magical, educational experiences to children who need it the most.

Conditioning of Han, a 700g  8 year old blue-tongue and Speckles an 800g 19 year old shingleback, is part of their training, enabling keepers to conduct regular and stress-free heath checks. The training is positively reinforced with some of the lizards’ favourite treats, including strawberries and banana.

Today, the NextSense students were able to discover firsthand, the differences between the lizards, who come from the same skink family, and share a vivid blue tongue, but look and feel quite different.

The first felt the smooth, shiny keratin scales of the blotched blue-tongue, before stroking the contrasting rougher calcified keratin scales of a shingleback, often referred to as a pinecone lizard, due to the appearance of the armour-like scales.

“Today was a fabulous experience for the children. As they can link it to their last term, learning about living things in science, also because this is a hands-on experience of living things. It is something they don’t usually encounter and is a special experience I’m sure they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Socorro Amas, Deputy Principle of the NextSense School

“It was really rewarding to see how much enjoyment the kids got out of our visit today. Some of them were a little shy and nervous at first, but soon became much more confident, wanting to gently touch the lizards and ask more and more questions”.

Emily Partridge, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Keeper

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, showcases all the quintessential native Australian animals under one roof. More than a tourism attraction, the dedicated team are highly committed to breeding, conservation and rescue programs.

Guests can find out more about Han, Speckles and the other personalities of WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, by visiting: www.wildlifesydney.com.au