Blackbutt overwhelmed by community response to reptile theft

06 Oct 2017

Blackbutt's popular reptile show will soon make a comeback thanks to pet owners who've offered to donate more than 30 animals to replace the star attractions stolen from the reserve last week.

Council is currently enhancing security before accepting any of the replacements pledged after the theft of nine lizards and six snakes over the long weekend.

New security bars will be installed on doors and windows of the after-hours reptile enclosure -- located in a secluded part of the reserve -- as well as sensors and CCTV.

"Newcastle City Council has been overwhelmed by the generosity of the response from the public and is working hard to expedite the return of our popular wildlife shows," Newcastle City Council Interim CEO Jeremy Bath said.

"We will accept many of the generous offers from the community as well as buy additional animals to improve our collection so visitors can see a greater variety when we resume our educational shows.

"We're also substantially enhancing security to ensure another theft doesn't take place.

"For example, metal window mesh is being replaced with welded bars.

"And if in future they somehow got through the bars, sensors will be triggered that will immediately tip off police."

Council's Natural Areas Manager Brad West said, despite the great public response, restoring the exhibit was no simple task because only animals with the right temperament could be chosen and gradually conditioned to crowds of people.

"I would like to extend a big thank you to the community on behalf of the whole Blackbutt team," West said.

"While we do appreciate the generous offers to loan out reptiles, it's crucial we carefully select the right ones to ensure they're a good fit for interacting with kids.

"We are confident we can have reptiles with the right temperament in place for the educational shows scheduled to run during the Christmas school holidays."

Three frilled-neck lizards, two shingle back lizards, a central netted dragon, two Woma pythons and two olive pythons were among the reptiles stolen.

They were the regular stars of the Blackbutt reptile shows, which are normally held at 11am on weekends and each day during the school holidays.