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Zoo’s new entry complex opens

14 December 2004

Zoo’s new entry complex opens

Auckland Zoo’s exciting new entrance complex opens its doors this week, in time for summer and the zoo’s big Christmas celebration, Bluebird Christmas at the zoo, on Saturday 18 December.

The $4.3 million complex, which took nine months to complete, includes ticketing, Wild Zone Gift Shop, Visitors’ Centre, administration offices, an Education Centre incorporating three purpose-built classrooms, and a new addition to the zoo, the WETA espresso café.

“These facilities will provide a welcoming, much more user-friendly experience for our visitors, and give them a real sense of arrival. Staff are also going to enjoy an enhanced environment to work in,” says Auckland Zoo Director Glen Holland.

The new entrance has been designed to fast-track entry to the zoo. Only one member of a group will need to visit a cashier’s booth to purchase tickets, and those with a ‘Friends of the Zoo’ pass or pre-paid tickets will be able to go straight to the staffed main zoo entry, located at the far end of the plaza.

The complex allows visitors to drop into WETA espresso café or Wild Zone Gift Shop before they enter the zoo proper, catering to both zoo visitors and passers-by looking for a great cup of coffee or unique gift. It also boasts a sneak preview of the giraffes in the Pridelands area. The Pridelands boardwalk has been extended as part of the project, to give zoo visitors some new angles on the animals. Artist Jeff Thomson returned to the zoo to relocate his iconic corrugated iron elephant sculptures within the new plaza.

As well as locally, freshly roasted coffee, WETA espresso café will also offer hand-blended teas, and light meals, including gourmet sandwiches, fresh soups and salads, and sweet treats. As well as being a sit-down café, WETA will also do take-away food. The café will be open from 8.30am every day.

Across the plaza is the new, purpose-built Education Centre, part of the front entry development, which opened in early October. It incorporates three classrooms, and administration and resource facilities. Each classroom is themed, to represent habitats such as islands, rainforests, grasslands and mountains. The teaching space also includes an outdoor ‘discovery terrace’, which will house a diverse range of animals to provide even closer encounters of the animal kind as part of education programmes.

Auckland Zoo Education Manager Leigh Wither says feedback from visiting teachers and students has been enthusiastic. “They love the new spaces and are thrilled to see more animals integrated into the education programmes.”

The new complex has been designed with an emphasis on sustainable building, using local materials including volcanic rock excavated from the zoo site. The building features plenty of natural light and ventilation so there is no need for air-conditioning. Water tanks will collect rainwater run-off from the buildings, and this will be used for irrigating surrounding gardens, and the front entry toilet facilities.


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