The best little zoo in the world


The Wellington Zoo 10-year Capital Programme has been in full swing for the last five years with the first project on the list, the Wild Theatre, opening in September 2007 (J54535). Since then the Zoo has been working hard to implement all ambitions as laid out by their development plan. Now that the new hospital (The Nest, see J43616) is up and running and work is well underway on the new Hub project (J97577) and Meet the Locals, the Whats On Report research team thought it was high time we head down to Newtown to see the progress for ourselves. With our wonderful guides, Capital Development Manager Ross Provan and Marketing and Communications Advisor Matthew Kennard, we inspected some of the completed projects and were given an idea of how the zoo is likely to look in the future.

Ross Provan and Matthew Kennard (Center) flanked by members of the Whats On Report research team

Sustainability, conservation and visitor involvement are high on the priority list for all projects undertaken by the zoo. The evidence of which is apparent in each of the projects we saw on the day. Visitors are encouraged to interact and the buildings are designed to allow this exchange. The Nest is as much an exhibit as it is a functioning animal hospital, there are even intercoms where the public are able to talk to the vets during a procedure. The innovative and functional building, designed by Warren & Mahoney, won the Best New Exhibit Award at the 2010 Regional Zoo and Aquarium Association Awards.

All building projects incorporate as many sustainable materials as possible, all materials that are used are low maintenance, recycled or come from FSC certified suppliers (part of their conservation programme is to educate all visitors on the benefits of using FSC certified timber). Rainwater is recycled. Solar light and power is utilised wherever possible. Budgets are always tightly managed, so the end result is even more impressive when you consider the comparatively small amounts of money they have to work with.

Construction work progresses on the Avaries as part of Phase 1 of ‘Meet the Locals’.

With so many successful ventures already complete or underway, the zoo is turning its attention to their next big endeavour; Meet the Locals. The Kiwi-themed precinct will cover about one third of the zoo grounds and feature animals, predominately birds, from New Zealand. Aviaries are now under construction as part of the first phase (J102602) and subsequent phases will follow the Asian-themed project (to house the sun bears, see J107805) to be started 2011. All works are planned for completion 2012-13, but of course it will not end there, the Zoo is already working on ideas for the next ten years. Although neither Ross or Matthew could be persuaded for details, this reporter hopes there will be certain black and white creatures in there somewhere.

Overall the capital development of Wellington Zoo is like a seamless juggling act, where they manage to balance visitor satisfaction, optimum conditions for animals, budget constraints with sustainability and conservation aims while maintaining design integrity. A skill that has been recognised time and time again by various industries, and most of all by the visitors. Thank you to Matthew and Ross for taking the time to show off the Zoo’s building achievements, we look forward to seeing what the future holds for the best little zoo in the world.

Reporter: Sadaf Lourie, Whats On Report Researcher


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