Becoming a 21st Century Zoo
Zoo Capital Programme
Thanks to the generous support of Wellington City Council and our other supporters, we’ve made a start on our 10 year redevelopment plan. Our focus is on addressing health and safety legacy issues and making the best possible Zoo for our visitors, our animals and our staff.
The old chimpanzee block was outdated and potentially dangerous for staff working in it. We opened up our new indoor chimp house for Zoo visitors to explore in October and in January the chimps moved in. With the zoo keepers apprehensive as to how the chimps would react to their fabulous new home, they surprised everyone by moving straight into their new accommodation. Their new house is safe, easy to clean and enjoyable for our zoo keepers to work in, the animals love it and it gives our visitors a great opportunity to see these magnificent creatures up close.
Our new African Savannah will allow our biggest animals more room to roam, while introducing them to co-habitation with other African species. Giraffes, zebras, ostriches and antelope will all move into this fantastic new space together. Zoo visitors will be able to come eye to eye with our gentle giants and see what goes on behind the scenes in the giraffe house.
During construction of this project we noticed the contractor was using timber from a source which could not be confirmed as sustainable. In-line with the Zoo’s sustainability and conservation objectives, this wood had to be replaced with a responsible sustainable alternative. The animals are due to move into this exhibit later in 2007.
One of our major health and safety concerns was the big steps in the middle of the Zoo. Time had taken its toll on these steps and in January they made way for the construction of the Zoo’s new all-weather Wild Theatre, the first project in the Zoo’s 10 year capital development programme. The Wild Theatre will offer respite from the weather and provide a safe and fun environment for Zoo visitors of all ages to meet and learn about some of our most interesting inhabitants. Construction of the Wild Theatre would not have been possible without the generous support of the Wellington City Council and Pub Charity.
Constructing these large projects had its challenges, with rapidly rising construction costs, difficult ground, and demanding technical requirements. These are no ordinary buildings – an adult chimpanzee has the strength of at least seven humans and our giraffes stand over five metres tall. We’re proud that we’ve been able to manage our way through the construction schedule to deliver high quality facilities for our animals and visitors, and great value to Wellington.
We love the views our hilly site provides but acknowledge it is not the easiest Zoo to get around, so we’re working towards a more accessible Zoo for everyone. This year we’ve made improvements to footpath gradients around the Zoo and we’ve installed an accessible toilet and shower in the Archibald Centre and an external wheelchair ramp on the Zoo side of the building.
Our next project, the Wellington Zoo Conservation Hospital, will be a centre for wildlife care, rehabilitation and research in Wellington. It will enable us to showcase more of what we do, turn the Zoo inside out so that we can provide an innovative and exciting experience for our visitors. The current hospital is a converted bungalow that is cramped and too small for the needs of our Zoo and our animals. The new hospital will provide excellent care for not only Wellington Zoo’s animals but also for the injured native wildlife from all over the Wellington region. Community support will be critical in making this project happen and the hospital will be the initial focus of our ‘$5 million in 5 years’ fundraising programme.