The zoo with a big heart: Wellington Zoo

The world's first carboNZero certified zoo in the world, Wellington Zoo puts conservation at the centre of everything they do

Tiger walking through grass at Wellington Zoo

Where

Newtown

Location

200 Daniell Street
Newtown

Contact

+64 4 381 6755

Thoroughly modern and dedicated to conservation and sustainability, Wellington Zoo has a big heart.

From solving a tiger’s itchy ears to keeping native penguins well-fed, their team know how to keep animals happy and put their welfare first. Walking around Wellington Zoo, set in the suburb of Newtown a short trip from central Wellington, you’ll see a bunch of extremely well looked after creatures in comfy habitats.

Red Panda in a tree at Wellington Zoo
Aviary at Wellington Zoo
Zahara the Giraffe at Wellington Zoo
Otter at Wellington Zoo

From otters blissfully lying in the sunshine to a family of chimpanzees swinging through their custom-build playground to a native kea parrot fossicking in its special ‘iKea’ enrichment box, you’re likely to feel pretty envious of the lives these animals get to lead. Of course, a lot goes on behind the scenes to keep the Zoo’s inhabitants this content.

Robert Stoop, who leads the Zoo’s Herbivore and Birds team, says not everyone is aware of how dedicated modern zoos like Wellington Zoo is to putting animal welfare first. “Sometimes we encounter people who aren’t aware of the evolution that zoos have undergone in recent decades – they see them as the entertainment-based menageries that zoos once were.”

And with over 500 animals living in this zoo, these keepers have got a big task on their hands. Far from the old-school idea that keepers just feed animals and clean their habitats, this team has a bit of a wild time.

As Robert says, "we can be standing waist deep in a penguin pool, feeding fish to half a dozen hungry Kororā Little Blue Penguins in the morning, tracking wallabies on a hillside during the day, and training a giraffe to stand still for a blood collection with a veterinarian in the afternoon."

Wellington Zoo was recognised on a global stage with a ‘Zoo Oscar’ for sustainability from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)

Close Encounters

Wellington Zoo’s Close Encounters let you get quite literally up close and personal with some of the Zoo’s most special inhabitants. Close Encounters are available with the giraffes, lemurs, capybaras, cheetahs, meerkats or red pandas - you haven’t really lived until you’ve hand-fed grapes to a red panda walking across your lap. A Close Encounter at Wellington Zoo is more than just meeting an amazing animal close-up - you'll be helping the Zoo in their work to save wildlife and wild places. Ten per cent of proceeds from all Close Encounters help the Zoo save animals in the wild through projects supported by the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund.

Zahara the Giraffe at Wellington Zoo
The Nest Te Kohanga

The Nest Te Kōhanga

See a different side of the Zoo’s animals and its conservation efforts, at The Nest Te Kōhanga, Wellington Zoo’s award-winning animal hospital and centre for native wildlife. Craig Pritchard, who manages wildlife health services in this amazing facility, says The Nest Te Kōhanga cares for not only animals from within the Zoo, but also for native wildlife that needs their specialist help.

If you’d like to watch one of the Zoo residents or a native wildlife patient receive a full general health check, The Nest Te Kōhanga has a spot where you can see all this in action. The team will explain the procedures and what’s happening for visitors, too.

Sustainability

Wellington Zoo’s commitment to making the world a better place goes beyond their animal programmes. They’re consistently recognised as a leader in sustainability, and this is a thread that runs through everything they do, down to their staff uniform suppliers and the souvenirs they sell in their gift shop. Wellington Zoo is also the world’s first Toitū carboNZero certified zoo, meaning they’re officially carbon neutral.

It’s programmes like this that make Wellington Zoo so wonderful. Everything they do is lead by respect for our natural environment, animal welfare, sustainability and conservation, setting an example for visitors and locals alike. As Robert Stoop says, “by coming to Wellington Zoo, visitors are able to connect with animals and contribute to our conservation work, both locally and globally. While Wellington Zoo may not be the biggest zoo by any means, it is regarded by many as the zoo with the biggest heart.”

Gibbon at Wellington Zoo
Koala at Wellington Zoo
Meerkat at Wellington Zoo

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