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Gold a ‘shore’ thing for Auckland Zoo

Gold a ‘shore’ thing for Auckland Zoo's horticulture team

Auckland Zoo's horticulture team scooped three Gold awards and the 'Best Commercial Project' Award for the Zoo's Sealion Shores exhibit, at the recent LIANZ New Zealand Landscape Awards.

First-time entrants in the LIANZ (Landscape Industries Association of New Zealand) awards, the Auckland Zoo team won the Water Dynamics Best Commercial Project for what was described by judges as an outstanding public landscape. The team also won Gold awards for Large Project Design, Large Project Soft Implementation and Large Project Garden Management.

Bluebird Sealion & Penguin Shores, which opened in late 2001, is home to sealions (which can be viewed at a beach, and via a large underwater viewing window set into a cave), little blue penguins and a number of shore birds. The exhibit replicates the rich diversity of flora along New Zealand's coastline, with four distinct aspects of this environment – the Coastal Foreshore, Sand Dune, Tidal Margin Zone and Regenerating Forest. All plants used are New Zealand natives.

"We're a small team and feel really humbled, and absolutely delighted, to have won all four awards," says Hugo Baynes, the Auckland Zoo’s Horticulture Manager.

"We've been able to build on the excellent concept plan drawn up for Bluebird Sealion & Penguin Shores by international zoo consultants Beca Hansen and Dave Roberts from Seattle, and it's great to see the horticulture team’s excellence recognised.”

“This adds to the Gold Award won at the Ellerslie Flower Show for our Pridelands exhibit in 1999, and really serves to profile zoological horticulture, and in particular, Auckland Zoo's horticultural assets," says Mr Baynes.

"We play a specialist role in supporting the zoo’s vision to immerse the animals, and zoo visitors, in as naturalistic environments as we can. Our ecological representation of habitats can also play an educational role. Over the last decade horticulture has played a primary role in major developments, helping turn Auckland Zoo into an aesthetically outstanding zoological park.”

"The grounds and exhibits are continually evolving, so we’re constantly being challenged,” says Mr Baynes, who along with his team, has recently planted out the zoo's special new walkthrough Lorikeet Aviary within the Aussie Walkabout exhibit.

These four LIANZ awards bring the total number of environmental awards won by Auckland Zoo in the past two months, to seven. The zoo received two ARAZPA (Australasian Regional Association of Zoos & Aquaria) – for native fauna research, and it's contribution to North Island brown kiwi recovery. Auckland Zoo was also the winner of the WEL Networks Public category of the 2004 ECCA EnergyWise Awards.

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