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Auckland Zoo wins Australasian conservation award

3 April 2006

Auckland Zoo wins Australasian conservation award

Auckland Zoo has won an Australasian conservation award for its efforts in helping preserve the Campbell Island teal, the world's rarest duck.

The Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA) in situ Conservation Award - "for exceptional effort towards habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild" - was jointly awarded to Pukaha Mount Bruce for its work with endangered New Zealand species.

The Campbell Island teal is a flightless, mainly nocturnal bird, found only in New Zealand. Once thought to be extinct, and believed to be the world's rarest duck, the total teal population currently numbers less than 200. Following a successful Department of Conservation (DOC) rat eradication programme in 2001, disease was considered the primary risk to the successful re-establishment of Campbell Island Teal to its native subantartic island home, 700km south of Bluff.

In collaboration with DOC, over the past five years Auckland Zoo veterinary staff have played a key role in identifying, evaluating and minimising disease threats. Zoo vets also provided primary health care to teal during two shipments to the subantartic in 2004 and 2005. As a result, 105 healthy teal have now been successfully released onto the island. During last year's visit, where disease screening was also carried out on other native species on the island, evidence of teal breeding was observed - the first time in 180 years.

"I'm thrilled to bits that our veterinary support for the Campbell Island teal has been acknowledged by our peers in the zoo and aquarium industry," says Richard Jakob-Hoff, Auckland Zoo's senior veterinarian. "We feel honoured and privileged to have worked on this project with our DOC colleagues.

This is typical of the sort of work we'll be able to do more of, and better, when the zoo's new New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine is completed next year." Construction of the $4.6m centre is due to begin in June this year. Once complete it will offer a state of the art wildlife research, diagnostic, teaching and medical facility to support the conservation of native fauna.

Visitors will also be able to view vets at work. The ARAZPA Awards were created four years ago to encourage the staff of member zoos and aquaria to strive for great achievements for wildlife on behalf of the community. Over 60 member organisations, throughout Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Oceania, belong to ARAZPA. Auckland Zoo also received the ARAZPA Publication Award - "for excellence in publication production" for its innovative 2004/2005 Annual Report, presented as an interactive mini CD.


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