WELLINGTON ZOO SPREADS WINGS FOR CONSERVATION

Friday, 23 November 2012

Sarah van Herpt and Lynn Allan.

With support from the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund, Wellington Zoo is sending two intrepid staff to assist with conservation projects in the wild.

“We’re ecstatic to give our people the chance to work with conservation projects in the natural habitats of the animals in our care,” said Chief Executive, Karen Fifield.  “It’s a great opportunity to exchange knowledge – with staff bringing their expertise into the field, and bringing more knowledge back to share with the Zoo and the community.”

Zoo Keeper Sarah van Herpt and Zoo Educator Lynn Allan will take part in two unique projects.

“I’m heading to the South Island, to work with the Kea Conservation Trust,” explained van Herpt.  “We’ll be monitoring birds, attaching satellite transmitters, and checking for new eggs and chicks.”

“I have a real passion for New Zealand native birds, and I’m looking forward to seeing how wild Kea interact with each other and with people.  Learning more about the behaviour of these birds will be great for Wellington Zoo, as I’ll be able to bring back more knowledge that will help inform how we create the Kea exhibit in our upcoming New Zealand precinct, Meet the Locals.”

Meanwhile, Lynn Allan will be travelling further afield to pitch in with the Golden Lion Tamarin Association in Brazil.  Wellington Zoo cares for several Tamarin species.

“The Golden Lion Tamarin Association is one of the world’s most successful species restoration projects, and I am really excited to learn more about what they are doing,” shared Allan.  “Animals bred in Zoos around the world have been released successfully into wild environments, ensuring a sustainable population for species that were on the brink of extinction in the wild. Protecting the natural habitat of these critically endangered flame haired monkeys also helps a range of other species, including the endangered Maned Three-Toed Sloth and the Woolly Spider Monkey.”

“The Golden Lion Tamarin Association involves the community, and has environmental education initiatives, so I’ll be helping to develop educational materials in English,” said Allan.  “I’m looking forward to learning what strategies the Association use to advocate for positive community action.”

In the last two years, the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund has helped four staff lend a hand at Free the Bears Asia and with Kākāpō on WhenuaHouCodfishIsland.  Visitors contribute to the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund when they take part in Wellington Zoo’s Close Encounters, with 10% of the proceeds going to support local and international conservation projects.