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Wellington Zoo Centenary Set to be Wild

18 April 2005

Wellington Zoo Centenary Set to be Wild

Chimpanzee tea parties may be an attraction of the past, but Wellington Zoo is about to restore these memories along with other history and memorabilia for their Centenary beginning in October next year.

The first Zoo in New Zealand, Wellington Zoo began in 1906 when a young Lion was presented to Wellington City by the Bostok and Wombwell Circus.

Named ‘King Dick’ after Prime Minister Richard Seddon, who had died that year, the Lion was housed at a purposely developed section of Newtown Park where the Zoo later grew to encompass a range of animals.

Over time Wellington Zoo has progressed from where animals used to be involved in entertaining visitors, then to a non-interactive Zoo, to a now semi-interactive Zoo with a focus on conservation and education.

Wellington Zoo Animal Registrar and Librarian, Barbara Blanchard describes the Zoo’s 1960s era as the ‘entertainment era’.

“We had the Chimpanzee tea parties plus other attractions like Big Cat feeds at 3:20pm daily and a Kiwi was brought out for presentation at 3:45pm every day. There were Pony cart rides, Elephant and miniature train rides as well as a pet corner which included goats and a ferret! The main focus was people looking at animals and much of the ground was so bare back then”.

However, as with numerous zoos globally, visitors to Wellington Zoo nowadays can look forward to an animal experience involving naturalistic, open air enclosures and interactive animal Close Encounters.

Chief Operating Officer, Mauritz Basson says “Wellington Zoo is committed to conservation education. Contrary to menageries of old that needed animals; animals in 2005 need modern Zoos. One of our aims is to raise visitor awareness as to the importance of conservation. We achieve that in a number of ways including Keeper talks, out of classroom school trips, interpretation and Close Encounters”.

Wellington Zoo would like to hear from anyone interested in contributing to the Centenary through sharing their memories, memorabilia or photographs.


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