Wellington Zoo has a special and enduring place in Wellington’s heart. The Wellington Zoo Trust’s challenge is to take that special place into the 21st century through innovation and smart investment – much needed at a Zoo where infrastructure dates back decades.
This centenary year the vision has come to life and we have much to celebrate. Our new chimp indoor house, the Wild Theatre and African Savannah offer fantastic new wildlife and conservation experiences. Being there on the morning that the chimps moved house, and seeing Jessie the matriarch chimp encounter a wide eyed toddler through the new viewing window, was nothing short of magical.
We also celebrate Wellington City Council’s support for the Trust’s 10 year development plan (the Zoo Capital Programme). The Council’s commitment paves the way for a Zoo we can all be proud of. The Trust appreciates the Council’s continued support as principal funder, and the support we have received from other major donors: Pub Charity, The Community Trust of Wellington, New Zealand Community Trust and Pacific Radiology.
The growing debate on issues such as climate change, and the multiple threats to our fragile environment clearly demonstrate the importance of the Zoo’s education and conservation roles. Last year over 178,000 visitors, including 80,000 young people and children, experienced the Zoo through visits and Close Encounters programmes. We have even more work to do to connect people and nature in ways that inspire us all to live sustainably.
The birth of our sun bear cub, Sasa, and our successful kaka breed and release programme, illustrate the critical conservation contribution that can be made by a modern Zoo. We want to strengthen this contribution in future years, working with partner organisations such as Te Papa and the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Acting for conservation requires us to walk the talk, so we’ll continue to invest in improving our environmental performance through water conservation and waste management.
As a charitable trust we need to strengthen our funding relationships and increase Zoo generated revenues to support our work. We finished the year in a positive financial position, with Zoo revenues up 14% on last year and a strengthening business strategy.
Thanks go to many contributors. Our new Chief Executive, Karen Fifield and her team manage the multiple goals of construction, planning and creating great visitor experiences. The generosity of our many supporters, including Wellington City Council, charitable trusts, businesses and individuals made it possible to complete our newest facilities and care for our visitors and animals. I acknowledge my trustee colleagues for their wisdom and energy, and in particular thank our foundation chair, Neale Pitches, for his leadership of our first three years.
Fundraising will be a focus for us over the next year – so join us in the challenge, and help make Wellington Zoo the ‘absolutely, positively best little Zoo in the world.’