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Tuatara couple expecting babies

Published: 10:41AM Wednesday August 06, 2008 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

Invercargill's oldest sex symbol looks set to become a father for the first time.

After nearly 40 years in captivity, Henry the tuatara mated earlier this year for the first time. The eggs were then laid by a much younger Mildred.

Now the 111-year-old is the proud father of 11 healthy eggs.

The eggs are doing well under incubation after getting off to a difficult start.

In March, it was the first time in his 35 years at the Southland Museum that Henry had made a move for the ladies.

This is only his second year back in with other tuatara after he was kept in solitary confinement for 17 years because he was so aggressive.

Twenty five years ago he bit off his new lover Mildred's tail when the museum tried to mate the pair.

In 2002, Henry had a cancer tumour removed from his bottom, which could explain his whole attitude problem historically.

However, Henry's handler will not counting his tuatara before they hatch.

It will be six months before the brood emerge, adding to last season's record haul of 21 hatchlings.

Southland Museum Tuatara Curator Lindsay Hazley says the laying has resulted in a marked increase in people coming to have a look at the ancient reptiles.