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Zoo growth requires adequate resources

Zoo growth requires adequate resources

Auckland Zoo, which is 80 per cent self-funding, is to raise its admission prices from 1 July to enable it to adequately resource its growth, noting the new tariffs will still keep it competitive with other regional attractions.

From 1 July an Auckland Zoo adult pass will rise from $13 to $16. Children under 4 will remain free, with the charge for those aged 4 – 15 years rising $1 (from $7 to $8). The student rate (previously $10) will increase to $12, and pensioners and those with disabilities will also pay $12. The various combinations of family passes have also been revised, but remain a cost-effective option.

“Following on from a number of years development and modernisation, we are still currently going through massive growth,” says Auckland Zoo Director Glen Holland. “This includes the much needed redevelopment of our front entry complex and education centre, the upgrading and modernising of some exhibits and several exciting new projects to be realised in the near future.”

Mr Holland says the role of the modern zoo is developing at an enormous rate, in a very positive and exciting way.

"Research surveys are telling us that the change to naturalistic exhibits, modernisation of techniques and the more interactive nature of zoos with animal encounters and other up-close and personal activities, is clearly the way forward for education and what the community desires. In tandem with the large conservation role we play, we’re totally committed to these things, but they cost, and need to be sufficiently funded.

“Animal food and veterinary care alone, cost the zoo over half a million dollars a year. Going to the movies these days costs $14, but a movie doesn’t have to be fed,” says Mr Holland, a regular movie-goer.

“After completing thorough regional comparisons with other zoos and visitor attractions, it’s clear we fall well below average admission prices,” says the Zoo’s Enterprise Board chairperson Councillor Geoff Abbott.

(Two other Auckland visitor attractions are charging $25 and $35 for adult admissions). Perth Zoo, the same size as Auckland, charges $A15, and Sydney’s larger Taronga Zoo, $A25. Auckland Zoo currently charges $13).

“For those who want to make regular zoo visits, a ‘Friends of the Zoo’ year pass is a fantastic way to go, as it provides unlimited daytime entry 364 days a year, and a 20 per cent discount on evening events, to name just a few benefits,” says Mr Abbott.

He notes that in addition to physical developments, the zoo has grown tremendously with additional revenue streams such as functions, events, and the zoo management of the shop. “Whilst that is all beneficial, it has placed additional burdens on staff. The benchmarking exercise has shown our staff numbers are insufficient, and our remuneration too low, when compared with comparable zoos in Australasia.”

It is acknowledged that while zoo staff are extremely dedicated and passionate about what they do, they cannot make ends meet on commitment and enthusiasm alone, and must be adequately rewarded. A significant number of employees have been paid well below industry standard, and these price increases, which we believe to be very fair, will enable us to redress this, and very importantly, ensure that we retain these valuable individuals,” says Mr Abbott.

The zoo recovers its operational costs through admissions rather than through Auckland City Council rates, and that means the cost of running the zoo is shared by all visitors.

“The zoo has been an Auckland icon for 82 years now, and its one that our community should feel extremely proud of. It’s recognised both regionally and internationally as an outstanding zoological park, a leader in a number of animal management programmes and in wildlife health and research.

“In the past three months Auckland Zoo has won 8 major national, regional and international awards for native fauna conservation and the environment, horticulture, research, and education. In addition, ‘The Zoo’ programme, produced by Greenstone Pictures, won a Qantas Media Award for Best Television Information Programme.

“These awards clearly demonstrate our excellence and relevance as a zoo in the 21st century, and they certainly spur us on to continue in our efforts to make Auckland Zoo a dynamic and inspiring place for all our visitors,” says Mr Holland.

© Scoop Media

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