n this section you will find reviews of zoos outside Europe — date of visit is provided. Every zoo’s description starts with a brief history in a separate tab. To support the descriptions pictures and video footage are provided when available. For those who want more detailed information about a particular zoo a file is available with contact details, number of species, involvement in endangered species programmes and more. To find a particular zoo you can either browse the list, use the filter or follow the link on the map.
↓ Zoos which are visited and reviewed. Please pick a zoo and follow the link. ↓
Hanoi Zoo is founded on 6 August 1976 by the Hanoi People’s Committee. The Zoo is run by the Hanoi Zoological Gardens institution which is state owned and part of the Transportation and Urban Public Works Service of Hanoi city government. The Zoological Gardens institution takes care of several city gardens including Thu Le park where the Zoo is located.
Previously known as Bachthao Gardens, the name was changed when the zoological collection was relocated to Thu Le Park in 1976. The current site covers an area of 24 hectares, including the 6 ha lake. The lake is used for leisure activities such as pedal boats, while the park features several children playgrounds as well.
Due to the Voi Phuc (kneeling elephants) temple in the western part of the grounds Hanoi Zoo is regarded by some a pilgrim’s destination. This temple is associated with the Ling Lang legend (a famous national Vietnamese legend), because it is allegedly built to worship Saint Ling Lang who defeated the Chinese enemy. Therefore Hanoi Zoo is also a Historic Heritage site.
When the animal collections was introduced in Thu Le Park it comprised around 300 specimens of just 35 species. Nowadays (2016) the collection has expanded to roughly 650 specimens of over 90 different species. In addition to expanding the zoological collection the Zoo has worked together with Hanoi city government to further develop the grounds and facilities over the years. Step by step they improved the enclosures to increase the welfare of the animals kept captive. Their ultimate goal was to get the facilities as well as the expertise of the people working in the Zoo up to modern standards, and bring it on par with other zoos worldwide. This also made them rethink about the animal collection, because conservation of endangered species became paramount.
This was reflected in the mission that was adopted, which included objectives that are common for every modern self-respecting zoo, such as (a) the conservation and breeding of rare and endangered species, both native and non-native; (b) provision of an environment where researchers can conduct studies; © education of the visitors about animals and conservation; and (d) the design and construction of modern enclosures. Odd as it may seem for western perspectives they also set a goal for themselves to reproduce some domestic animals and to sell ornamental plants. And of course a visit to Hanoi Zoo had to be a relaxed outing. So, the conservation and protection of wildlife and the provision of a beautiful zoological garden for the people to enjoy were considered the most important targets.
The latter, therefore, made entertainment an important issue. For people used to zoos in Europe and North America this kind of ‘merry-go-round-entertainment’ in zoos is totally out of character for modern western zoos. However, this is common practice in Asian zoos, with most of the time the entertainment being overwhelmingly present, sound included. In Hanoi they even had an animal circus on the premises, which of course is unacceptable from the animal’s point of view as it impairs the animal’s welfare. So, they had to rethink the issue of entertainment as well. Especially the animal circus, because this clearly introduced animal welfare problems in the Hanoi Zoo establishment, while their intention was to do the right thing for these animals — at least based on their mission statement. Fortunately, Hanoi Zoo took their mission serious and quietly shut down the animal circus in 2016. Not the least due to the agreement the Zoo signed with Animals Asia, an animal rights organisation, in 2014.
As the Zoo has been a member of 1993, more and more emphasis was placed over time on conservation of endangered species as well as . Quite a few species of the Zoo’s animal collection are listed in the for Vietnam, including the Indochinese tiger, clouded leopard, Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii), Owston’s palm civet, Vietnamese pheasant, Crested Argus (Rheinardia ocellata) and the Asian Elephant. Hanoi Zoo is involved in several captive-breeding programmes of these Red Data Book species, but for example also for the Tam Dao newt, which is only found in a few places in Vietnam and has become one of the most endangered species of the world. Many of those species have been bred successfully in Hanoi. As is the Edwards’s pheasant, for which the Zoo established a long-time relationship with the World Pheasant Association and plays a significant role in its breeding programme.(South East Asian Zoo Association) since
Hanoi Zoo teamed up with several other non-governmental organisations including zoos to further improve the living conditions of the animals, the contribution to breeding programmes and its operational activities in general. As a result the Zoo’s elephants were finally free to roam their enclosure in 2015, after years of being chained. In addition to assisting the unchaining of elephants, Animals Asia and its partners have also been informing zoo carers about the benefits of enrichment for their animals to help provide them with daily stimulation, and working with zoo staff to provide new enclosure furnishings. This included climbing platforms for bears and tigers that have helped reduce fighting. Beyond that the clouded leopards now have multiple structures, levels and pathways. Meanwhile the macaques have been given bamboo perches, hammocks, swings and puzzle feeders to keep minds and bodies active.
As creating a research environment was part of their mission statement, the Zoo has set up several projects to study animal behaviour, supporting the design of better enrichment features, as shown in the video, and animal diets. Other research projects aim at improved control of contagious diseases, together with the Veterinary faculty of the Hanoi university.
The Zoo is important in the governmental fight against illegal trade of endangered animals by providing shelter and care of confiscated animals.
Educational programmes to provide wildlife information and create awareness among the general public about the importance of wildlife conservation are under development . This includes designing new information panels at enclosures, while they envisage to start with lectures for school groups.
Apparently there are plans for building a new zoo in Hanoi, the Me Tri-Trung Van Animal Park. This zoo should show the difference between in-situ and ex-situ living conditions of animals, in other words it should represent a situation of how animals live in the wild. Although the original idea was to open the new wildlife park in 2010, the plans haven’t materialised yet, in 2018.
(Source: Hanoi Zoo website; Animals Asia website, Hanoi Zoo closes its animal circus, 17.02.2016; Travelfish website, Vietnam forum, accessed 22.12.2018)
New Zealand’s oldest surviving zoo was established in 1906 after a group of residents petitioned the Wellington City Council to establish a Zoo for the people of Wellington. This petition coincided with the offer to the city of a young lion by the name of “King Dick” (named after Prime Minister Richard Seddon) by the Bostock and Wombwell Circus. King Dick was officially the Zoo’s first animal. King Dick was soon joined by llama, emus and kangaroos to form the foundation of the Zoo, initially housed in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. The collection was moved to Newtown Park, the Zoo’s present location, in 1907. The collection of animals grew continuously, with for instance two axis deer and six Himalayan thar donated by the duke of Bedford, president of the Zoological Society of London, in 1908. Other donations, from other zoos and private collections, followed and by 1912, Wellington Zoo housed over 500 animals. King Dick was presented with a female companion, which led to lion cubs born in 2013. Other species on display in that year included camel (which visitors could ride), sea lion, capuchin monkey and dingo. Over the next 30 years, with support of the Wellington Zoological Society the Zoo new animals were acquired and new enclosures built or improved. The first tigers arrived in 1923 and the first elephants in 1927, while two moated bear enclosures with concrete walls were constructed in 1929 and 1931. The Zoo records show that in the 1920s, besides the Tasmanian devil, the now extinct Tasmanian tiger or Thylacine was part of the animal collection as well.
During WWII zoo development stopped temporarily, because several zookeepers joined the armed forces. Nevertheless things were picked up after the war where they were left earlier. The primate section grew with the arrival of a young Muller’s grey gibbon (Hylobates muelleri) in December 1949, who became the first zoo’s longest serving resident — to be trumped by a tuatara at a certain point in the future of course — as well as the world’s oldest gibbon when he died in 2008. In 1956, as a part of the Zoo’s 50th anniversary celebrations, three female chimpanzees arrived from London Zoo. This must have been the reason that they introduced tea parties with the chimps afterwards. Like in London zoo the tea parties were very popular with the public.
The last tea party was in February 1970, four years after Koenraad Kuiper became Zoo director. After World War II Kuiper emigrated to New Zealand because he couldn’t find a suitable job in the Netherlands. More remarkably, his father had been director of Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp) before and during the war. Kuiper senior had been a strong opponent of using zoo animals for entertainment of the public. This might have influenced the ideas of the son, and together with the new era of zoo development and husbandry this led to an end of the chimp tea parties. Today, Wellington Zoo’s chimpanzees live in a large outdoor park and new indoor home, which was completed in 2007.
In the 1970s a revival of interest in New Zealand’s indigenous species, such as the kiwi and tuatara led to the opening of the Zoo’s first nocturnal house in 1975.
The four elephants the zoo housed during its existence, provided entertainment to the public by offering rides on their back. New insights in animal behaviour, elephants should be ideally kept in herds of 4 – 5 as they are very social animals, and zoo objectives led to the decision in 1983 to that the zoo had neither the space nor the resources to keep elephants.
In the 1980s many old-fashioned concrete and barred cages were demolished and replaced by enclosures of modern design, while for the animal collection more attention was paid to endangered species instead of the many common species they had on display. Hence, species such as snow leopard, giraffe, sun bear, lemur, white-cheeked gibbon and Sumatran tigers joined the collection. In addition, breeding programmes were initiated for kiwi and tuatara. The next decade saw the launch of a total overhaul of the Zoo, but due to an economic recession this couldn’t be pursued and finalised. Nevertheless, it did deliver a brand new entrance building, which also housed a new zoo school, a gift shop and administrative quarters. December 1998 the exhibit called Tropical River Trail was opened which followed the newest design standards for enclosures to provide visitors a special experience by habitat immersion. This part starting directly after the entrance, including the primate islands, still exists, but lost the name Tropical River Trail.
A new major redevelopment started in 2002 followed by a grand opening of the new Asia section, a sponsored project, in September 2012. The Asia section includes the new Malayan Sun Bear exhibit, as well as the redeveloped Sumatran Tiger exhibit. On 22 October 2015 the final project of that redevelopment programme, Meet the Locals — celebrating New Zealand’s native species, was opened to the public. The brand new kea aviary walk-through experience, however, was completed and populated in 2017.
The Zoo is a not for profit charitable trust, and has been that way since 2003. The Trust runs the Zoo on behalf of Wellington City Council — the Zoo’s principal funder.
(Source: Wellington Zoo website (accessed 2002); Wellington Zoo annual reports; Encyclopedia of the World’s Zoos (ed. C.E. Bell, 2001); website The Animal Facts (accessed 25.12.2017); Wikipedia; ‘Het huis met de leeuwen’ by Tania Heimans, 2015)
The first zoo in Auckland opened its gates to the public on 2 November 1911 in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga. The Royal Oak Zoo as it was called was established on about 2.5 hectare of land that entrepreneur John James Boyd purchased in February that year — land that was still totally bare at the time. It was the purpose of Boyd to establish Auckland’s first zoological facility. Such an effort he had accomplished earlier, in 1910, at Upper Aramoho near Wanganui, also on New Zealand’s North Island.
Boyd set up a private menagerie on the acquired grounds, which at its heydays added up to more than 2000 birds and other animals. The Royal Oak Zoo was a constant source of aggravation, because the local residents were upset and complained about the noise, the smell, the crowds, and the ever-present threat of having wild and dangerous animals on the loose in their neighbourhood. So Boyd’s Zoo became controversial, with the local Onehunga Borough Council trying to close it, but counteracted with a successful run for mayor of Onehunga by Boyd himself. Nevertheless, in the end the local Council forced Boyd to close the zoo in 1922. In June of 1922 the Auckland City Council purchased the remainder of the animals, the six lions, a tiger, a panther, one hyena, two dogs, vultures, an emu and several monkeys, that Boyd had not already sold to other individuals. And with that group of animals the early seeds of Auckland Zoo were sown. There is still a Boyd Street in Onehunga today.
Six months after the City Council bought the animals, on Saturday 16 December 1922, Auckland Zoo was opened to the public, at the current Western Springs location, then a semi rural area about 6km from town hall. The Zoo staff, at its opening, comprised one zookeeper, an assistant keeper, a turnstile attendant and a night watchman, all of them enjoying a seven-day working week. After only 6 months of construction work being done the new Zoo of just over 11 hectares was still an uninspiring place, but this didn’t last long. Soon, many trees were planted and in July 1923 the City Council decided on developing a bandstand, next to better enclosures for polar bear, hippopotamus, bison, elephant, tiger and other species. Many of these original zoo structures became and still are Zoo landmarks. Also in 1923 the Zoo’s first director, L.T. Griffin, went to Africa to source species from the wild. These trips to other continents were part of the aggressive Zoo policy of expansion over the next few years. But besides these trips, animals could be purchased due to donations, such as Jamuna the female Asian elephant, Auckland Zoo’s first star who arrived on June 1923 (see ).
In these early years the Zoo expanded rapidly, new enclosures were built and new species arrived, also because businessmen donated animals which they had acquired on trips abroad. The Zoo’s developments were topped by the birth of 25 mammals and 62 birds at the zoo in 1928. Further to this, the Zoo’s mission was extended by the inauguration of the Auckland Zoological Society on 17 July 1929. Although its main purpose was to encourage scientific study, it became merely an interest and support group for the Zoo.
When in 1935 Lt. Col. E.R. Sawer was approached to report on where the zoo should be headed, the result impressed the City Council. They appointed Sawer as director/curator on 1 April 1936, after which he introduced the novel notion that zoological parks should focus on education, science and conservation.
In his report Sawer had called for animals to be paired or grouped, which is exactly what he did as well as introducing order and coordination. The changes that Sawer made reduced the enormously high mortality rates, that were normal in zoos at the time, from a whopping 35 percent in 1930 to about 10 percent in 1937. This even went as far as that in 1939 for the first time the number of births surpassed mortality in Zoo mammals. Especially, better animal diets including the provision of additional vitamins and other supplements led to noticeable improvements such as better fertility and reduced disease rates. Sawer’s good sense of marketing and the end of the economic depression helped the Zoo transform from a terrain with a group of emptying cages to a zoological park with a ‘full house of exhibits,’ including the accompanying exotic species — native fauna was not yet allowed.
Despite lower turnstile numbers and low priority for animal importation and food supply for the zoo animals during WWII, the war period was not quite as eventful as for zoos in countries in western Europe. Nonetheless, at the end of the war the Zoo was in a state of slight disrepair and depletion of stocks. The problem of building up a new animal collection was not easily solved after the war. Many zoos all over the world were looking to improve their collections, and New Zealand’s geographical isolation was more or less out of scope for the animal collectors and exporters. Moreover, Auckland Zoo was surpassed by Wellington Zoo on the list of politician’s favourites, and the Zoo was still not allowed to exhibit native fauna.
In 1948 the dark shadow of war disappeared with the approval of the construction of new facilities such as an aquarium, while in 1949 the Zoo was officially allowed to exhibit kiwi. But the postwar baby boom among New Zealand’s population led to a Council decision to create more entertainment activities in the Zoo, to satisfy the people with children. Sawer had always strongly resisted the introduction of animal entertainment as it had nothing to do with the Zoo being an educational institution, which it should be in his view. With Sawer retiring in 1949 he lost that battle, but he had another clear message for the Council — the Zoo needed a full-time on-site curator and veterinarian.
The next five years the Council’s commitment to further improve the Zoo showed when existing enclosures were renovated and new enclosures were built for sun bears, wombats, echidnas, monkeys, tigers and birds. At the same time progress was made by developing basic hospital facilities, a quarantine area, better equipment, and service areas. Visitor numbers increased, because Auckland citizens had more money and time to spend and other attractions were closed on Sundays and public holidays. This also led to the decision to introduce even more entertainment, especially animal entertainment. Following the popular chimpanzee tea parties at London Zoo, four chimps, who learned the ropes of performing a good tea party in London, arrived in October 1956 to perform for the Auckland community. After eight years of entertaining the crowds the chimps were relieved from their task when attitudes towards treatment of animals in captivity were beginning to change. During these rather prosperous 1950s other entertainment attractions were introduced such as a miniature train and the children’s zoo in 1958. A highlight in the animal collection could have been the birth of twin polar bears in June 1957. Unfortunately, one of the cubs died shortly after birth, while the other one drowned when 11 weeks old during the swimming lessons given by its mother. In the years between 1923 and 1995 Auckland Zoo exhibited several polar bears, and although some lived to an old age, they all developed skin lesions. Additionally, they had a bad track record regarding breeding polar bears, because only one cub was ever raised to adulthood at the Zoo.
The 1960s started with a new Zoo director (supervisor), Derek Wood, who was trained in the United Kingdom at Chester Zoo and he brought with him the first giraffe ever to set foot on New Zealand, John from London Zoo. As said the chimpanzee tea parties were terminated in 1964, in May to be exact, but the tea-party chimps remained at the zoo until their deaths. The tea-party chimps displayed abnormal, anti-social behaviour for the rest of their lives. Hence, none of them — except two chimps born in the Zoo that never participated in the tea-parties — could be introduced into the natural social group of chimpanzees that was established later in the 1980s. When in 2004 was decided to focus on just one great ape species — the orangutan, and the troop of six chimpanzees were relocated to Hamilton Zoo, Bobbie and Janie were the two surviving ‘tea party’ chimps that remained in Auckland. Bobbie died in November 2004 and Janie passed away in October 2013 at the age of 60, having lived at Auckland Zoo for 57 years.
Building activities continued in the 1960s and besides other considerable improvements a nocturnal house for New Zealand’s national icon, the kiwi, was erected. This period also saw the arrival of many new animals, including a female elephant from Singapore as the long-awaited companion for Jamuna the Asian elephant, to succeed the bull that was killed in 1936. But star elephant Jamuna died in September 1965, and replaced by Ma Schwe, a female Asian elephant, in 1968. Other new animals arrived, such as a female giraffe, a pair of Bengal tigers, two young polar bears, a giant anteater, two capuchin monkeys, white-tailed deer, 23 keas and four spider monkeys. The giraffe herd and spider monkey troop at the zoo today are descendants of these first imports.
Despite old enclosures being demolished and replaced by new ones the Zoo still suffered from the everlasting problems with flooding. As a matter of fact, even in June 1977 it was still possible that a hippo floated out of its enclosure into Western Springs during a flood. So, it should be no surprise that already in the 1960s the first serious calls for expansion arose and a major overhaul began. This led eventually to a long-term plan of the Council to modernise the Zoo with natural, moated, bar-less enclosures and an extension of the grounds into Western Springs park with approximately 5 hectares in 1973. For starters they closed the original entrance on Old Mill Road and opened a new entrance on Motions Road.
The 1970s saw enormous improvements, including those of the veterinary support, the stopping of public feeding, development of more naturalistic enclosures and introduction of behavioural enrichments. Subsequently the breeding successes increased. Animals deemed unsuitable for Auckland Zoo were transferred or phased out of the zoo’s collection, although it took another 20 years before the last polar bear died. During the late 1970s the Zoo was one enormous construction site with a new souvenir shop, cafeteria and enclosures for the giraffe, zebra and antelope to be completed. The overall professionalism increased with the employment of a full-time education officer as of 1975, and in 1976 the first comprehensive course for zookeepers started at the Auckland Technical Institute. Besides those developments new species arrived as well. People could come and watch white rhinoceroses and tamarins in the 1970s.
New enclosure development continued in the 1980s with a new hippopotamus exhibit and a new moated and bar-less orangutan exhibit opened, the latter is currently part of the Orangutan Trail. But probably the highlight of those days was the three-month stay of a pair of giant pandas. These pandas were part of an offer that the Chinese government made to the Australian Prime Minister for Australia’s bi-centennial celebrations. A three-month stay in Melbourne Zoo and a three-month stay in Taronga Zoo, Sydney, was organised, and Auckland Zoo quickly investigated the feasibility of a third stop in Auckland. Well, these became a popular three months in 1988, and all revenues were donated to giant panda research and conservation in China as well as to conservation projects in New Zealand. Not sure if this was the trigger that visitor numbers rose again after a decline in the early 80s when competition appeared due to the opening of the Rainbow’s End theme park and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World in the Auckland area, but the giant pandas alone were seen by about 300,000 visitors.
In 1989, Auckland as a city expanded when 11 territorial authorities merged into the large city of Auckland. A new Zoo Enterprise Board was established which became the legal entity responsible for the Zoo.
After WWII there had been a continuous flow of construction work ongoing at Auckland Zoo, either new construction or refurbishment. But this last decade of the twentieth century was a time of extreme change at Auckland Zoo, with almost half the zoo’s enclosures being renovated or replaced. As of 1990 the design focussed more and more on creating naturalistic habitats, which shows for instance in the Elephant Clearing. The construction of this exhibit began in 1990 and delivered a large moated outdoor enclosure with a modern elephant house and pool, in which the pachyderms could completely submerge. Another example of this type of exhibit design that is part of the 1991 Zoo development plan, is Pridelands. This large area, including the new savannah exhibit for giraffe, springbok, zebra and ostrich, flamingo, the rhino exhibit and Lion Hill, opened in 1997. For the lions it meant that they could leave the historic lion pit. Soon the area was extended with the Hippo River, a riverine forest area that encompassed a new hippopotamus exhibit and an enclosure for chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). A huge improvement for the baboons that had previously lived in a cage dating from 1926.
Despite the new exhibit and the Zoo’s good track record for breeding hippos a decision was made to phase out hippopotamuses (stop breeding). Due to the average life expectancy of the hippopotamus of 45 – 50 years, however, it would take a long time before all the hippos would die of old age they reckoned. The last two remaining hippos died in 2016, in March and August to be exact. Other species had to be phased out as well, it was decided. This included the wombat, puma, jaguar and leopard. While the genetic base for other species was strengthened, for instance by importing three southern white rhinoceroses from South Africa. One of the two female rhinos appeared 10 months pregnant on arrival from South Africa, so, in effect they had imported four specimens.
The chacma baboons were phased out starting around 2009 when the Zoo’s management decided to focus on the hamadryas baboon species, which is housed in zoos throughout the region.
Besides many smaller developments such as the new ring-tailed lemur enclosure and the new Wallaby walk-through, two other landmark exhibits were built in the 1990s, the New Zealand Aviary (1992) and The Rainforest (1996), a forested area that provides a natural environment for different primate species, including cotton-top tamarins. The New Zealand Aviary is a free-flight aviary and bush walk featuring NZ native species.
Another major development at the turn of the century was the Sea Lion and Penguin Shores, opened in 2001, which replaced the old Wallaby walk-through and small mammal enclosures. This exhibit was designed to recreate a New Zealand Coastal ecosystem featuring a beach and a large pool.
Then a period of relative calm started with regard to construction work, except for the building of the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (NZCCM) in 2007. But in 2010 with the opening of the Tropics exhibit, focussing on the hot and tropical Americas, things were fired up again. The New Zealand Aviary, originating from 1992, was redeveloped into ‘The Forest’ in 2011 and to be included in Te Wao Nui — the Zoo’s largest ever project development which is dedicated to New Zealand’s unique fauna and flora. Te Wao Nui (The Living Realm) opened on 11 September 2011 and covers about 4 hectare of the zoo grounds and comprises 6 habitats: The Coast, The Islands, The Wetlands, The Night, The Forest and The High Country. Another existing exhibit that was incorporated in Te Wao Nui is the Sea Lion and Penguin Shores renamed in the process as The Coast.
Then in May 2014, a new giraffe house was completed and in 2016 Auckland Zoo started their transformation into a 21st-century-zoo. In December 2016 ‘Strangely Beautiful Australia’ opened, which draws on the Murray-Darling region of Southeast Australia. The area is home to giant stick insects, Eastern snake-necked turtles, redback spiders, lace monitors and vibrant Australian birds who join the Tasmanian devils, red-necked wallabies and emu to create a bio-diverse Australian section. The development is the second part of the Zoo’s $120 million 10-year-development plan ‘Nearer to Nature’ 2016 – 2026.
Auckland Zoo became involved in many conservation projects over the years, but they made the headlines when they achieved a ‘world’s first’ in 1992 when ‘Hoki’, a kakapo — a native rare flightless parrot, was successfully artificially hatched and reared. It was returned in the wild to Maud Island, one of New Zealand’s offshore islands (see ).
In addition to the Zoo’s existing conservation efforts the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund was established in 2000 to support the conservation of endangered animals in the wild in both New Zealand and overseas.
Auckland Zoo veterinarians became renown for their knowledge, hands-on experience, and contribution to conservation projects including kakapo recovery. Hence, they were appointed supplier of veterinary services for the Department of Conservation’s Kakapo Recovery Programme in 2006.
In 2007 the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (NZCCM) opened — the first national centre for conservation medicine in the world — replacing the Zoo’s old veterinary centre.
The Zoo not only contributed to conservation of New Zealand’s indigenous species, because in 2008 three Sumatran tiger cubs were bred as part of the international captive breeding programme for this Critically Endangered tiger subspecies.
As part of the grand tour of kakapo Sirocco (see ) Auckland Zoo hosted this ambassador for New Zealand conservation during Conservation Week 2009, in partnership with the Department of Conservation. Due to this event the Zoo became the first zoo ever to host a kakapo. Also in 2009 the Zoo released 12 Northern tuatara (descendants of the rare Cuvier Island population) onto Cuvier Island, boosting this island’s known tuatara population by over a third.
A milestone is achieved when 200 North Island brown kiwi chicks are successfully incubated, hatched, reared and released as part of the Operation Nest Egg (O.N.E.) programme (2010). O.N.E. is a Department of Conservation kiwi recovery programme where kiwi eggs are taken from the wild, hatched at the Zoo, and the chicks are kept on predator-free islands until they are grown, before releasing them into the wild.
Having successfully bred and raised several endangered species in the twentieth century, the start of the next century showed a continuation of such highlights that extended the Zoo’s breeding track record. In June 2000 the Zoo’s first white rhino calf was born, which was the first female white rhino born in New Zealand. The first ever successfully hatched greater flamingo chicks in , marked a world’s first for Auckland Zoo in January 2014. It was the first time a zoo had successfully bred from an entirely hand-reared flock in the world. Another world’s first was the successful breeding and (partly hand-)rearing in captivity of twin lesser short-tailed bats in 2014, a species endemic to New Zealand. Also in 2014 one female and three male Tasmanian devils move to Auckland Zoo from Australia’s Healesville Zoo to be part of an insurance population for this species and to raise awareness about the plight of this Endangered marsupial. Even more impressive was the first ever breeding and rearing success of the world’s most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered (EDGE) amphibian, New Zealand’s rare and unique Archey’s frog, a ‘living fossil’. This boosted the Zoo’s Archey’s frog population to 25 in February 2016.
Unfortunately, not everything the Zoo accomplished received positive appraisal. When in 2015 and 2016 Auckland Zoo acquired two Asian elephants from Sri Lanka to enlarge the Zoo’s elephant number, it was reported by Born Free that both elephants were residents of a controversial Government-owned facility in Sri Lanka. Conditions at Pinnewala Elephant ‘Orphanage’ raised concern with the Born Free Foundation, as did the practice of exporting elephants from Sri Lanka to captive facilities such as zoos overseas. They firmly believe that such export to New Zealand will result in little or no conservation benefit to wild elephants.
(Source: Zoochat, Auckland Zoo website (accessed in January 2016), Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of the World’s Zoos)
In 1952 the Indian Board for Wildlife felt the national capital needed a zoological park to provide recreation for society at large. Therefore an ad-hoc committee was established of several high-ranking nature lovers of Delhi, including Smt. Indira Gandhi, to draft a proposal. In September 1953 a decision was made on the new zoo’s location, the site between Purana Quila and Humayun’s Tomb, which is the current location still. Furthermore, it was decided that the Central Government would develop the site into a zoological park after which it would be handed it over as a working enterprise to the Forest Department of the Delhi Government.
The Indian Board for Wildlife felt that a good zoo should be founded on modern principles with open, moated enclosures and naturalistic displays to serve as an example to other zoos.
The first plan for the development of such a zoo was drafted by Major Weinmann, Director of the Ceylon Zoological Garden — now the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka. As Weinmann was not available for the long term, Carl-Heinrich Hagenbeck, owner of Hagenbeck Zoo at Hamburg, Germany, was asked to take things forward. He was the grandson of the world-famous founder of Hagenbeck Zoo, who was the first to introduce the idea of open moated bar-less enclosures. So the grandson was definitely suited for the job to meet the requirements of the Indian Board for Wildlife.
The preliminary plan was ready by March 1956 and provided a general layout of waterways, roads and paths, animal enclosures and sewage system. After some adjustment to meet the local conditions and topography of the ground the Government of India approved the plan on 31st December 1956. Honouring his grandfather Carl Hagenbeck, grandson Carl-Heinrich Hagenbeck designed from scratch a zoo like Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg with large open moated enclosures, only four times larger (100 ha), and the largest of India. For instance, the tiger enclosure was an exact copy of the tiger enclosure in Hamburg zoo, just bigger.
By the end of 1959, construction had sufficiently advanced. The Northern part of the zoo was ready to welcome animals as well as visitors.The grounds consisted of roads, waterways, moats, ponds, lawns, plantation and most importantly animal enclosuresand animal houses. Animals that had been arriving as gifts from State Government and individuals since the announcement of the establishment of a zoological park at Delhi, could finally be moved from the temporary pens to their permanent enclosures. The collection comprisedtigers, leopards, bears, foxes, monkeys, deer, antelope and many bird species.
The park was opened on 1 November 1959 as the Delhi Zoological Park. In 1982 it was officially renamed to National Zoological Park which reflected more correctly the purpose of this institution — a Zoo managed and financed by the central government to provide a model for other zoos in the country.
The first years after the inauguration Delhi Zoo fulfilled its duty as a ‘model’ zoo for the entire country. It was well known for its inspiring Hagenbeck style design and animal collection which was grouped according the then-popular concept of continental areas. In addition the Zoological Park was well known for its breeding successes of white tiger, lion-tailed macaque, and Manipur brow-antlered deer or sangai.
Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic delays and obstructive procedures the National Zoological Park deteriorated rapidly. Over the years, the government agencies that had to manage the Zoo had to deal with many more public issues. Most of these issues were of greater public importance than taking care of the Zoo. Especially, running the Zoo as a public enterprise complicates things. For instance the Delhi Public Works Department is the only agency that is permitted to do maintenance, and the zoo is a very low priority for the Department.
A possible solution to stop further deterioration could be privatisation. The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has already made an attempt to achieve this for the National Zoological Park. If such a privatisation can be successful and will lead to a transformation that will make the National Zoo to be manageable and prosper again, other municipal and state-run zoos might follow the example. In 2001 a master plan was developed to make the National Zoo a world class zoo that is up to standard. The plan was prepared under the guidance of the CZA and will provide more space and a natural habitat for the animals. The plan’s full implementation was envisaged for around 2006.
Unfortunately the endeavours to become a world class zoo didn’t prove very successful, as the Zoo made the headlines, because of a series of zoo animal deaths in 2015 and 2016, such as hog deer, lion-tailed macaque, langur, giraffe and cape buffalo. Moreover, the zoo officials have been accused of under-reporting the number of deaths among the animal collection and presenting falsified postmortem reports to the CZA. This raised questions regarding the maintenance, management and attitude of the zoo officials.
But whatever may happen in the (near) future, the National Zoo has played a major role in modern Indian zoo history. At the National Zoological Park, birds and animals still live in an environment that in many ways resemble their natural habitat. The National Zoological Park not only provides a home for endangered species, but also helps them to breed in captivity.
Not unlike many other zoos in the world Delhi Zoo has suffered the occasional outbreak of an infectious disease. An outbreak of avian influenza in autumn 2016 even led to a complete shutdown from mid October 2016 until January 2017. This drastic measure was taken by the Delhi government to tackle the problem effectively, but partly due to the barrage of criticism over how it handled the dengue and chikungunya fever outbreaks among the City population during the monsoons.
Since its onset the Zoo is located on Mathura road next to the famous old fort Purana Qila. Remains of one of the walls of this old fort, built in the 16th century, are visible while walking along the northern edge of the Zoo grounds. Not far from the entrance you can also find a 17th century milestone, a Kos Minar built by Jehangir.
(Sources: Zoo and Aquarium History by Vernon N. Kisling, jr.; Zoo: A History of Zoological Gardens in the West by Eric Baratay and Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier; website National Zoological Park Delhi; Wikipedia; The Times of India)
The history of Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre is inextricably linked with that of the conservation of takahē and — a local farmer and amateur ornithologist. The takahē being the indigenous bird species that was thought to be extinct and was rediscovered in 1948, while Elwyn Welch was the farmer from Mount Bruce area who was a dedicated amateur ornithologist successfully breeding native bird species, including takahē.
The Pukaha Mount Bruce Forest is a protected Forest Reserve and the last surviving 942 hectares of the ancient Seventy Mile Bush that once stretched from Masterton to central Hawkes Bay area on New Zealand’s North Island. This forest was once a huge green cloak over the landscape, with diverse tree species, including towering rimu, totara and northern rata, as well as many ferns, shrubs, climbers and herbs. Moreover, the forest was alive with the sounds of many different bird species, such as huia, kōkako, saddleback, piopio, kaka and kiwi. But most of the bush was destroyed and converted to farmland.
The forest was acquired by the government in 1867 — bought from the Maori — and the Mount Bruce Forest was reserved and set aside in 1889. The reason for this is not quite clear. Three possibilities have been suggested. It was reserved because (a) it was the last remaining part of the Seventy Mile Bush, or (b) settlers might need a supply for building in later years, or © bird life was an important source of food for the local Maori.
Anyway, some 55 ha of the total 942 ha were further protected as a Native Bird Reserve, administered by the Wildlife Service. A captive-breeding facility for native wildlife was established on these 55 ha, building on local farmer Elwyn Welch’s attempts to rear and breed the rediscovered takahē (which started in 1957), the first species that was introduced to the Reserve. Local man Elwyn Welch became an expert in captive raising of birds, including endangered birds, leading to successes with takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) in the 1950s.
The Wildlife Service successfully bred brown teal in 1962, and whio (blue duck) in 1964, but did not succeed in breeding takahē until 1977. In the same decade, a large number of brown teal, buff weka and kakariki were released. The facility was renamed as the National Wildlife Centre (NWC) in 1980. The range of species held at Mount Bruce increased during the 1970s and 1980s, with successful breeding being recorded for North Island saddleback, little spotted kiwi, great spotted kiwi, Antipodes Island parakeet, black stilt, hihi (stitchbird), kereru, North Island kōkako, North Island robin, Auckland Island teal and grand skink.
Since 1981, the NWC at Pukaha Mount Bruce has been jointly managed with the National Wildlife Centre Trust, initially in partnership with the NZ Wildlife Service, and later (since 1987) the Department of Conservation (DOC). This arrangement allowed the DOC to concentrate on captive breeding programmes and the Trust to focus on visitor benefits. A visitor centre complex was built and opened in 1983. Already two years later the nocturnal house for kiwi was built.
During the 1990s and subsequently, the focus of captive breeding at NWC was on breeding threatened species for release as part of national recovery programmes and on development of captive husbandry techniques for species that would require captive-breeding programmes. Major programmes focussed on species such as Campbell Island teal, shore plover, North Island kōkako, hihi and kākā.
Integrated management between the NWC and the adjacent Mount Bruce Scenic Reserve began with the release of captive-reared and translocated kākā in 1996. The successful reintroduction of kākā — a New Zealand’s first — led to the necessity of intensive predator control in the forest, and this was followed by releases of North Island kōkako and North Island brown kiwi from 2003.
In 2001 the entire forest became part of the wildlife reserve, extending the area from 55 to 942 ha, increasing the capacity to breed a variety of native species, including birds of course. About 100 km of footpaths were cut and thousands of traps and bait stations were scattered, setting up an area for wildlife with low predator pressure.
In 2006 the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board has been established, a strong partnership between the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board, Rangitane o Wairarapa and the DOC. In July 2013 the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board took over the operation of the Visitor Centre, education programmes and retail activities from the DOC. In October 2015, it took over the operation of the captive breeding programme from the DOC as well, while the DOC is contracted to undertake the forest restoration programme at Pukaha Mount Bruce on behalf of the Board.
Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, now a well-respected and successful Reserve, is still situated about two kilometres from ‘Kelvin Grove’, Elwyn Welch’s farm where it all started.
The Centre’s mission
Though not officially called a zoo and not a member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre operates like a regular zoological facility with a mission to conserve and restore wildlife, operates breeding programmes and runs a visitor’s centre focussed on education. Probably the only difference with a regular zoo is their sole focus on native wildlife and tree species. Currently restoration mostly concerns birds, but will expand to bats and reptiles such as the tuatara.
It has established a safe haven for species that once used to thrive in New Zealand. Additionally, the captive-bred individuals are being reintroduced in the wild. Bird releases started in 1996 with nine kākā, the bush parrot. Currently there’s a colony of approximately 160 kākā in the Mount Bruce Forest, and the goal is to establish a population of 600. Furthermore, in 2003 North Island brown kiwi and North Island kōkako were successfully reintroduced to the area. Over 15 kiwi are currently living in the forest and two in the nocturnal house. For the breeding programme, they incubate kiwi eggs to protect chicks and thus give them the chance to become adult.
The Campbell Island teal
The Campbell Island teal captive-breeding programme was notable as being one of the two major components in the successful Campbell Island teal recovery programme, along with the 2001 eradication of Norway rats from 11,300 ha Campbell Island. Captive-bred teal were introduced to Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) in 1999 and 2000, and a mix of captive-bred birds and ‘wild’ birds from Whenua Hou were successfully reintroduced to Campbell Island in 2004⁄06. This resulted in termination of the captive-breeding programme in 2008, which had achieved its main goal.
The Centre runs an extensive education programme called the Learning experiences Outside the Classroom (LEOTC), giving school children the chance to see the kiwi and to learn about environmental problems facing New Zealand.
(Source: Wikipedia; Elwyn Owen Arnold Welch from Teara — the encyclopedia of New Zealand; Department of Conservation — Pukaha Mount Bruce captive management strategic direction 2010 – 2015; website Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre; Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre by Colin Scadden, 2000)