Police are investigating after thieves stole 23 exotic animals, including an alligator, snakes and dragons from the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, on the New South Wales Central Coast.
The theft raised concerns about the safety of the animals which, according to park officials, need special care and may struggle to survive outside a controlled environment.
"Some of these animals are very rare in Australia, they need specialised care and we've put a lot of work into getting them to the point that they're at." said Liz Vella, a senior curator at the park.
The break-in was noticed on Sunday night, and Vella believes the thieves knew what they wanted and targeted particular enclosures.
Exotic and native snakes, lizards, geckos, chameleons and a small, baby American alligator were among the reptiles stolen. The park has several types of dragon including central netted dragon and the eastern bearded dragon.