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'Cheeky' gecko to be named by public

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/04/2017

Kiwis will get the chance to name a "cheeky" gecko and give it a final welcome home after it was smuggled to Germany and then returned by authorities.

The jewelled gecko, also known as a moko kakariki, was poached from Otago in New Zealand's South Island before being seized by authorities in Germany in 2013 and then returned home in 2015.

After being nursed back to health by Wellington Zoo, it took up residence in the Otago Museum last December where it will spend the rest of its life.

Now museum staff are hunting for a name for the male lizard and anyone can suggest one by visiting the museum's website before 5pm on May 19.

The public will then judge the winning entry by voting for their favourite up until midday June 23.

"The gecko has proved very popular with our visitors, all of whom enjoy learning about its story, lifestyle and cultural significance to local iwi," says Otago Museum living environments and science engagement operations manager Sam Botting says.

"The final piece of the puzzle will be giving him a name - I look forward to seeing the entries!"

Ms Botting told NZME the gecko was cheeky.

''He is very personable and he definitely acknowledges and responds to staff members," she said.

The winning name will be announced on June 28.

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