The endangered grassland earless dragons will get a second lease on life with the opening of a new breeding facility at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
A group of six dragons, which came from the Melbourne Zoo, were released at the facility on Thursday.
ACT Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said the dragons would be an "insurance population" to help guard the species against extinction.
She said the facility would be critical to the long-term survival of the animal.
"Australia is facing an extinction crisis. If we are to halt and reverse the damage we're doing to our natural environment, we must challenge ourselves and test and trial approaches to tackle extinction rates and reintroduce native fauna back into the wild," Ms Vassarotti.
"We need action at every level - from strong national environment laws and clear national plans for threatened species to concerted local action.
"The ACT government understand the urgency of this work and has taken proactive steps to conserve habitat and protect our threatened species.
"The facility and breeding colony will be critical to the long-term survival of the grassland earless dragon, which is found only in the ACT region."
Grassland earless dragons are one of Australia's most threatened animals, they are only found in Canberra and Queanbeyan.
There is a population in an enclave in the Jerrabomberra Valley, which straddles the ACT-NSW border.
The $60,000 Tidbinbilla facility could one day house up to 80 dragons.
Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman said the specially-designed facility would have a quarantine capacity.
"This controlled, biosecure facility will keep diseases out and provide optimal conditions for the dragons' well-being," he said.
"Each dragon will have its own space with everything it needs, such as a burrow, grasses to climb on and a basking platform.
"Larger outdoor predator-proof ring tanks will allow ecologists to observe the grassland earless dragon in a more natural environment."
The ACT government has pledged a more than $2 million package to the protection of grassland earless dragons.
"The ACT government is providing $2.1 million over three years for the initial stage of the project, which included large-scale landscape work to restore and re-connect habitat to help grassland earless dragons and other grassland species survive in the landscape," Mr Gentleman said.
The University of Canberra will partner with the ACT government on the project.
Researchers will conduct genome sequencing to assist in breeding the dragons, along with other behavioural, genetic and ecological research.
University of Canberra Professor Stephen Sarre said the university was keen to support the facility at Tidbinbilla.
"The University of Canberra has been collaborating with the ACT government for over 15 years in studies of the grassland earless dragon and established the first captive colony," Professor Sarre said.
"The University of Canberra has played, and continues to play, a lead role in behavioural, genetic and ecological research of the Canberra grassland earless dragon."
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