Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is urging the public to come forward with information after 58 lizards were found stuffed in a discarded lunchbox at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens.

Date:  15 August 2017

DOC’s Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki says DOC staff were called to the Gardens last Friday after two international tourists found the container in the bamboo area and handed it to staff. 

On closer inspection, 58 lizards were stuffed into the small lunch container wrapped with duct tape.  Only four of the lizards were still alive and are now being looked after by DOC. 

“We are still identifying the lizards, but they are thought to include spotted, McCann’s, and southern grass skinks, and Waitaha and jewelled geckos. All are fully protected and most are threatened or at risk,” says Ms Toki.

Lizards in the box.
The lizards and the lunchbox they were found in

Lizards in the box.
A lizard found in the lunchbox

“These precious lizards were found in horrific conditions and we need the public’s help to find out who put them there.” 

“Someone might have seen the box being left at the Gardens or suspicious activity at possible lizard sites in the South Island. They might have seen someone turning over debris or looking intently at one site for a long time,” she says. 

We encourage anyone with information to phone 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or the Christchurch DOC office +64 3 341 9100

Treating our native species in this way is the sort of activity that DOC takes seriously. The Department recently announced it is stepping up its compliance and law enforcement work throughout the country.


For media queries, contact:

Nicola Toki, DOC Threatened Species Ambassador
Mobile: +64 27 403 6107

Back to top