The last of the piranhas at the National Aquarium of New Zealand have had to be euthanased after the removal of permission to hold them in their Napier tanks.
The end of four decades of piranhas at the aquarium has been confirmed by aquarium owners the Napier City Council in answer to questions from Hawke's Bay Today.
A statement says the aquarium is no longer allowed to keep piranhas "because of tighter rules introduced to protect native species here in New Zealand".
The piranhas were euthanased last month because they were elderly and had health issues, leading to a determination that they could not safely be exposed to the risks of being moved to another facility, the council said.
The aquarium was the first in New Zealand permitted to hold piranhas and the first arrived from Cleveland, Ohio, US, in 1979, in a trade with some of the Hawke's Bay aquarium's seahorses.
In 2002 the pack-hunting man-eating piranhas, among about 500 species of the fish worldwide, had to be removed from public display while new tanking was provided to ensure total containment.
Banishment has come at a time when the aquarium has also had to farewell its aging tuatara, and at a time when a major redevelopment is proposed, aimed at creating a national centre that showcases education, conservation and research.
Eldest tuatara Jen, was euthanased at the age of 75 at Massey University early this year, unable to recover after being sent for treatment of a sinus and eye infection.
Mossy, 40, was also euthanased on welfare grounds, when problems and seizures developed after her return from Massey to see if she could cope better in a more natural enclosure rather than a hospital cage after treatment, also for an eye condition.
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Alfie, aged 45, remains at the aquarium, and the council says Department of Conservation guidelines on the size of enclosures limit the number of individuals in an exhibit the size of the aquarium, which still has 77 fish species, two birds, nine reptiles, three amphibians, and seven species of invertebrates.
The business case for Project Shapeshifter, the proposal for redevelopment, is in its final stages and "nearly ready" for submission to Government.
Animal welfare and the role of modern aquaria are a prominent feature, aiming to educate and inspire positive behaviour change, where exhibiying animals for people's entertainment is scene as an outdated form of aquarium operation.
The Council says procurement of new individuals (for existing species) or new species will be considered in the frame of the new plan.
Natives would fit the narrative of the expansion concept, and exotics would be kept in the short to medium term only if sustainably procured from the aquarium trade and therefore easy to safely move on if and when required.