Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Wellington Zoo’s Animal Delights

26 April 2005

Wellington Zoo’s Animal Delights

Frozen mice, chicks and Tamarin smoothies are not the delights a normal household plans to store in their freezer, but for Wellington Zoo this is the usual stash.

Supplying 557 animals with a highly nutritious and individualised diet is no mean feat considering food needs to be sourced, stored and prepared all in a days work.

Wellington Zoo’s Curator Equipment and Supplies, Russell McKeen says “this is a four staff operation starting at 6:00am, 365 days a year preparing 113 highly specialised species diets that have been put together by our Veterinarian. Each animal’s diet varies daily so we need to follow the diets to know who needs what so that each animal gets the right amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fat each week”. Behind the scenes, however, the Zoo must ensure that the appropriate foods are sourced and that its two drive-in chillers and freezer are functioning correctly in order to store the food safely prior to consumption.

Sourcing Zoo diets involves a lengthy process of determining not only what foods are appropriate to which animals, but who can supply this produce at the highest quality for the best price throughout the year.

“As animals would only eat the best fruit on a tree I only buy the best quality foods. It’s sometimes better than what people buy at the supermarket. Sure there’s a cost factor involved, but we try to negotiate as much as possible” comments Russell.

However, while the Zoo generally does not accept food from members of the public, it is supported by local businesses including Hill’s Pet Foods, Watties and Arataki Honey who sponsor the Zoo with produce for the animals. Resene Paints also support the Zoo by providing the buckets used to transport the food; without the paint of course!

Sourcing foods can involve approaching a number of different suppliers for the same goods because of the cost and the quality.

Despite the fact that all pet food suppliers must adhere to New Zealand Food Safety Authority legislation, Wellington Zoo experienced an unfortunate incident in 2001 when Jambi the Tiger died after eating poisoned meat that had passed through the supplier undetected. This has meant that the Zoo’s Veterinary and food team have had to increase the amount of research and security checks they undertake on suppliers before purchasing and administering food for the animals.

“I sometimes go to look at the markets to check who does the buying and where it comes from to check it’s the best quality for the animals” says Russell.

However, quality and quantity come at a price, and $170,000 per annum or $14,166.66 per month this is a fair bite out of the Zoo’s overall yearly budget. Wellington Zoo’s three Giraffes, for example, cost the Zoo approximately $7800 in food for one year, while the three Otters eat roughly $1560 dollars worth of beef mince, hard boiled eggs, chicks and popcorn annually.

Wellington Zoo Chief Operating Officer, Mauritz Basson says “We are often asked why Wellington Zoo doesn’t have Elephants. The main reason would be the space needed for these mega herbivores. Secondly to keep Elephants we would need a minimum of four animals (international Elephant Management regulations) which would cost us $250k per annum for feeding alone. Adding all the other costs in Elephant keeping makes it a very expensive exercise for a small Zoo.”

As part of the Zoo’s long range development plan the Zoo will introduce a number of new animals which whilst increasing the food bill will assist in the endeavour to make Wellington Zoo a magical place of learning and fun for our visitors.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Charlotte Graham: Empowering Communities To Act In A Disaster

The year of record-breaking natural disasters means that in the US, as in New Zealand, there’s a conversation happening about how best to run the emergency management sector and what philosophies best engage and protect communities in the event of a crisis.

How much of the responsibility for a community’s safety in a natural disaster is the Government’s, and how much can be left up to the community themselves? And how do we ensure none of our most vulnerable residents are left behind? More>>


CPAG Report: The Further Fraying Of The Welfare Safety Net

New Zealand’s welfare system has undergone a major transformation during the past three decades. This process has seriously thwarted the original intent of the system, which was to provide a decent standard of living for all New Zealanders in times of need... More>>


Signage, Rumble Strips, Barriers: Boost For State Highway Road Safety

Boost for road safety this summer Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today announced a short term boost in road safety funding this summer and signalled a renewed focus from the Government on introducing safer speed limits. More>>


Risks & Adaptation: Cheaper To Cut Emissions Than Deal With Climate Change

The cost of climate change to New Zealand is still unknown, but a group of experts tasked with plugging the country's information gaps says it will likely be significant and it would be cheaper to cut greenhouse emissions than simply adapting to those changes. More>>


BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>





Featured InfoPages