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Give more visitors unique native fauna experience

MEDIA RELEASE

31 March 2004

Auckland Zoo’s vision to give more visitors unique native fauna experience gains support

Auckland Zoo’s vision to enable more people to experience its unique Native Fauna Encounter is one step closer to reality.

A $33,000 Ministry of Tourism grant to assist the zoo with the much-needed upgrade of its Native Fauna Encounter Centre is to be presented to the zoo by Prime Minister Helen Clark this Friday.

The grant comes from the government’s Tourism Facilities Grants Programme, established to develop nationally significant tourism facilities that enhance international visitors’ understanding and enjoyment of New Zealand.

“Our Native Fauna Encounter not only has that ‘wow’ factor for both local and overseas visitors, it’s a fantastic opportunity for the zoo to advocate for endemic species that are at risk or endangered,” says Auckland Zoo Director, Glen Holland.

“It’s also a way of inspiring people to learn about native species, and be more conservation minded in their daily lives.”

The increasingly popular daily encounter, presented by a Native Fauna Section keeper, enables people to see a range of native species up close, including birds in flight, and other animals, in a recreated mini forest setting. The centre looks into a bush and waterfall scene – a section of the zoo’s walk-through New Zealand Aviary.

An award winner in the Australasian region, Auckland Zoo last year received the prestigious ARAZPA (Australasian Regional Association of Zoos & Aquaria) Education Award for this Native Fauna Encounter.

The zoo is still seeking a further $40,000 sponsorship to enable it to complete the upgrade (which will involve increasing the current seating capacity of 80 to 160), and plans to begin construction in its upcoming 2004-2005 financial year.

Mr Holland says the role Auckland Zoo plays in advocating and gaining knowledge about how to help and preserve native fauna species, is a vital one and is only going to grow, and makes a facility like the Native Fauna Encounter Centre all the more important.

"A lot of work in relation to native species goes on behind the scenes. The zoo is actively involved in assisting many Department of Conservation (DOC) related breeding recovery programmes, including those for weta, tuatara, fairy tern, kaka, brown teal, kiwi, and will shortly add the endangered native Archey's frog to this list.

Through the zoo’s veterinary department, it also plays a leading role in the field of research, disease screening, and care of native species, and also offer training to other vets, DOC and MAF staff.

“We are currently planning for a Wildlife Health & Research Centre that will serve such needs nationally,” says Mr Holland.

Auckland Zoo has just this month received a further two ARAZPA (Australasian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquaria) awards for its work with native fauna species:

- The ARAZPA 2004 In situ Conservation Award was presented for the zoo’s contribution to the North Island Brown kiwi recovery through the Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery programme, Operation Nest Egg. The award recognises exceptional effort towards biodiversity conservation in the wild.

- The ARAZPA 2004 Research Award was received for "Establishing baseline health data for New Zealand native fauna. For outstanding achievement in scientific research.”

Ends

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