Our Sustainability Commitment

Wellington Zoo’s sustainability initiatives stem from our commitment to reduce the environmental and social impact of our activities.

As an ongoing journey, our pathway to sustainability will improve with time and experience. In order to reach our goals we pledge:

  • To think before we buy and build—informed decisions will help us reduce the amount of raw materials used, eliminate pollution and reduce waste production. Most significantly to Wellington Zoo, sustainable buying can also help stop the destruction of valuable native forests and natural habitats worldwide.
  • To think before we use—efficient use of energy, water, office products, fuel and other resources we use to ensure we reduce our environmental impact.
  • To think before we discard—reusing, recycling and composting as much waste as possible will help reduce air and land pollution, and reduce the amount going into landfills.
  • To share our experience and grow—happy, well-informed staff are a crucial asset to our success, and to our visitors’ experience. Through encouragement and training, Wellington Zoo empowers its people to actively participate in our sustainability journey.
  • To nurture our community—we share many dreams with our community and through reciprocal involvement we will step forwards towards our sustainability goals together.
  • To build a future for wildlife—conservation is at the core of all we do at Wellington Zoo. We aim to be a 21st century conservation agency which builds community understanding and support for positive action for the world’s animal species.
  • To protect our future—forward-looking financial decisions made in partnership with our community of donors, visitors and customers will ensure Wellington Zoo’s financial sustainability.  
  • Our Carbon Footprint

    In May 2013 Wellington Zoo became the first zoo in the world to be carboNZero certified.  The raft of sustainability initiatives implemented over the last five years to reduce our production of waste and our consumption of water and power saw us pass our audit with flying colours. 

    The Zoo has a modest carbon footprint, and our accreditation involves committing to reducing our emissions further yet, by 0.8% each year.  For the emissions that we cannot eliminate, we have carefully chosen carbon credits that align with our values - from the EBEX 21 Permanent Forest Sink Initiative.  This initiative allows land to be naturally regenerated, with a covenant to protect the land from future development.   These carbon credits exceed all internationally recognised standards, and fit perfectly with the Zoo’s conservation ethos.  


    In the last two years we have planted over 1,300 native trees around the Zoo and we have more sections of the Zoo earmarked for further native revegetation. We also plant native trees as browse (food) for our animals rather than the exotic invasive species we used previously.


    Over the last few years, the amount of waste we sent to landfill has decreased dramatically. Through simple steps like waste separation the waste sent to landfill has reduced from 93 percent of total waste to just 19 percent. An additional 70 percent is sent for composting and 11 percent recycled. With the help of the Shell New Zealand Sustainability Fund, we have installed recycling bins throughout the Zoo so visitors can do their part by recycling their waste and this fund also allowed us to purchase an in-house composter. This composter allows us to compost all organic waste onsite at the Zoo, including bones and animal waste that were previously sent to landfill – the first batches of compost have been produced and used throughout the Zoo.


    We have increased the number of rain water reservoirs in the Zoo to 13, with a plan to install more in the near future – this water is used for cleaning, refilling animal ponds and in cisterns and basins in visitor toilets. Due to the installation of the reservoirs and a concerted effort we have continued to reduce our water use - in the last three years we have decreased our water use by nearly 24 million litres (the equivalent of the water used 120 average households a year).


    The Zoo has a fleet of four vehicles which have all recently replaced. Our fleet now consists of one hybrid, two small, fuel efficient Honda Jazz’s and one large utility vehicle that was carefully researched before purchase and is twice as fuel efficient as the vehicle it replaced.

    Building Materials

    The specifications for all Capital Development Projects insist on the use of FSC timber and that sustainable and environmentally friendly products are used wherever possible. We also try to use recycled materials – timber, plastics, concrete.

    Staff Initiatives

    All Zoo staff members have been asked for at least one innovative idea on how we could ‘green the zoo,’ with several of these having already been implemented.

    These include:

    • The removal of individual rubbish bins from offices throughout the Zoo
    • Installing timers for the charging of our Zoo carts
    • Ensuring the paper we use is FSC certified
    • A battery recycling programme
    • Ensuring computer monitors are switched off at night by having our security officers double check all PCs


    We use environmentally friendly cleaners in our food stores and around the zoo where possible – we recently changed our preferred cleaning product in the hospital to a New Zealand made product that is free of harsh chemicals but just as effective.

    Zoo Shop

    In the Zoo gift shop we:

    • use biodegradable plastic bags
    • paper bags and reusable spun woven bags to pack shop purchases
    • offer customers the option to decline a bag
    • try to buy products with as little packaging as possible to eliminate waste
    • recycle all of the packaging that our stock arrives in
    • support local and New Zealand manufacturers as much as we can
    • stock fair trade goods from overseas (jewellery from Uganda, worry dolls from Guatemala, free set bags from India)

    Other Zoo environmental actions:

    • Underfloor and ceiling insulation has been installed to several Zoo buildings in an effort to reduce the need for heating.
    • We have installed filters in the Zoo’s sewer system to stop hard matter (animal poo) entering the City sewerage system.
    • Heat pumps were installed in the main visitor building and in offices to replace other heaters.
    • Batteries and Styrofoam are recycled
    • We replaced two fridges to low energy varieties, recycling the old appliances.
    • Encourage and incentivise staff to use their own coffee cups at catering outlets at the Zoo.
    • Fish for our animals is now sourced locally.
    • Our catering contractor separates their waste for recycling and composting, uses free range chicken and eggs and sells fair trade coffee.
    • We replaced paper towel dispensers in toilets to either hand dryers or installed new dispensers that only dispense a specified amount of paper at a time
    • We reduced the total number of printer/copiers at the Zoo. There are now only three for 60 staff. We changed the default on all printers to double sided.
    • The Zoo’s marketing collateral (brochures, annual report) are printed on recycled or sustainably-sourced paper with vegetable inks.
    • All lights in visitor toilets are sensor activated.
    • Our pumps are all on timers to save electricity.

    Wellington Zoo is a member of the Central region Sustainable Business Network.

    Winners of the 2009 Central/Southern Sustainable Business Network Sustainable Business of the Year Award and Not for Profit Award.

    Winner of the 2009 NZI National Sustainable Business Network
    People's Choice Award.