A number of significant species reproduced during the year.
- Two Campbell Island teal eggs were transferred to Mount Bruce
as part of a joint relocation programme. One of these hatched.
- Three African wild dog pups were born and are doing well.
Adhering to the new Strategic Plan, a small project team
is continuing work on the collection plan. The essential Ministry
of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) approvals for importing new species
and new individuals of existing species are complicated and in addition,
endangered species are notoriously difficult to obtain. This means
our plan must be flexible in response to species availability.
We have made significant progress in our working relationship with
MAF on Import Health Standards and we now have an Import Health
Standard for Southern African porcupines from the United Kingdom
and hoofed stock from the USA, Canada, and South Africa.
We have submitted applications to the Environmental Risk Management
Authority (ERMA) for the importation of maned wolf.
We have received approval to import leopards and wombat from ERMA.
We are still consulting with MAF to obtain an Import Health Standard
for the wombat.
The Zoo is taking a leading role working with MAF on the containment
standard for all zoo animals.
We are still hosting a postgraduate project, which is examining
the chimpanzees' priorities and using the information to improve
their physical and behavioural well-being.
Several shorter projects are being conducted with help from our
staff as needed: for instance, aggression in baboons; captive mammal
enrichment; anti-predator behaviour in tuatara, food preferences
in kaka; baseline sun bear blood chemistry; browse effects in captive
giraffes; and metabolic bone disease in fruit bats.
Two of our veterinarian staff, Katja Geschke and Kerri Morgan, are
working with Biosecurity NZ, Auckland Zoo, Massey University, and
the poultry industry on business continuity response to a possible
avian flu outbreak. This should be in place by the end of 2006.
Another of our Zoo staff, Mandy Richards, in conjuction with Unitec
and Auckland Zoo, is exploring whether the female tiger's reproductive
cycle can be mapped using hormonal analysis of faeces. For four
months our keeping staff collected faecal samples three times a
week and recorded the tiger’s behaviour over two hour-long
sessions each day.
The "Comparative facial anatomy of Southern Ocean Ziphiidae
(family of Beaked whales)" is an important cooperative
project between the Wellington Zoo, Pacific Radiology and the Museum
of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Three rare species of whale, Andrew's
beaked, Gray's beaked and dense beaked whale have been examined
using CT and MRI technology. This world-first study is part of a
project investigating the comparative facial anatomy of Southern
ocean beaked whales and will contribute to international studies
of the ears and melon structure of these very rarely seen and enigmatic
The Kereru Discovery Project was launched recently, with Dame Kiri
Te Kanawa as its patron. It is an innovative joint conservation
project, conducted in association with Te Papa, the Karori Wildlife
Sanctuary, Victoria University and the Pukaha/Mt Bruce National
Wildlife Centre (Department of Conservation). The aim of the project
is to have the public identify and connect with urban wildlife,
in particular the kereru, our native wood pigeon.
Landcare Research is conducting the first large-scale screening
of feral and native birds for avian malaria in New Zealand over
50 years. Wellington Zoo provided samples for this major study.
During the year we made the most of Pacific Radiology's sponsorship
to help Department of Conservation staff identify subspecies of
dogfish, using radiographic films.
Together with endocrinologists from Wellington Hospital, our veterinary
department conducted an investigation into pituitary failure in
a hamadryas baboon the results of which will be published next year.
Click here for a full list.
Our own research
Dr Geschke presented a paper on chronic cystic pulmonary disease
in the kea and health assessment of free ranging Hector dolphins
at a recent American Association of Zoological Veterinarians’
conference in Omaha.
Edy MacDonald, Alison Lash, and Beth Houston all attended the 2006
ARAZPA conference in Perth. Edy presented a paper on research in
zoos, Beth and Alison jointly presented on crisis management and
We are making progress on our exciting and long-overdue exotic and
native wildlife hospital, and the architects’ plans have now
been completed. The hospital is to be centrally located and is intended
to become a fascinating part of the visitors' experience. We have
secured a generous sponsorship of hospital equipment as well as
audio-visual equipment that will allow vets to communicate with
visitors as they work in the operating room. The hospital construction
will begin in July 2007.
Animal training and conditioning programme
In this fascinating programme, animals are trained to present themselves,
for routine health checks and medical interventions. The health
benefits are enormous because the animals don’t need anaesthetics,
the whole process is virtually stress-free for both animal and staff,
and the animals get frequent health monitoring.
The main elements of the programme are regular activities like
weighing, body and mouth inspections, rectal temperature checks,
blood-drawing, vaccinations, crate training, and, for some animals,
artificial insemination or encounter training, etc. As new animals
join in, long-term plans are drawn up for them that match their
Already trained for many of these activities are: giraffes, lions,
tigers, chimps and gibbons, spider monkeys, lemurs, servals, peccaries,
sun bears, red pandas, otters, tamarins and several species of parakeet
and cockatoo. Visitors are able to attend some of these training
sessions as part of the Zoo’s Close Encounters programme.
A story with a successful outcome, our keeping staff noticed that
Sean the sun bear’s penis seemed to be painful. Through a
conditioning process, our training staff were able to teach Sean
to present his penis for inspection instead of having him anaesthetised.
This early inspection showed that Sean’s penis sheath was
constricted and we were able to call on Massey University’s
surgical services to remedy it. Sean should be able to breed now
and we hope to see offspring soon.
The training team’s number of educational advocacy animals
has increased with the addition of Tahi the one-legged kiwi, Nui
the morepork, and Jess, the New Zealand falcon. We also hope to
include serval kittens if that breeding programme is successful.
Various encounter animals have participated in various television
and other media events including What Now, international news coverage
and off-site projects with Te Papa and Otari Wilton Bush.
The Strategic Plan policy for complementary horticultural design
– as seen in the red panda enclosure – will continue
to be applied to new projects. The giraffe house building programme
and its innovative landscaping has been delayed but is hoped to
be underway in the next couple of months.