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Giant Pandas for Wellington?

Giant Pandas for Wellington?

Wellington City Council Deputy Mayor Justin Lester is launching an investigation of the businesses case for Giant Pandas being housed at the Wellington zoo.

Lester, who chairs the Governance, Finance and Planning Committee, says he is putting forward a proposal for Council to invest in a business case as part of the council annual plan to investigate the financial viability of the project.

Wellington City Council has been in discussion with the Government since 2011 after discussions between the New Zealand and Chinese Governments.

“I think Wellingtonians would love to have Pandas at the Zoo. There would be considerable conservation and economic benefits to Wellington. It would present Wellington and New Zealand to an international stage. New Zealand business relations would also be strengthened by the presence of this Chinese icon.”

“This would not be an easy project to fund and could come with considerable costs. Council will need to look closely at the economics and ensure the business case stacks up.

“The Government has indicated this is a project they would like to see and contribute financially to. We would need them to consider underwriting the project if it were to go ahead because it’s highly unlikely we could sustain it ourselves. Funding arrangements like that would need to be considered.”

We do know that Wellington has a suitable climate for pandas and also for growing their food source bamboo. Wellington Zoo also has the staff knowledge to manage giant pandas.

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“This is an issue that the Council should be putting resources into investigating and seeing if there is a way to make it work financially.

The Government has driven the Panda initiative in the past and wrote to Wellington City Council in 2011 to seek their interest. The Christchurch earthquakes stalled further traction at the time, but it is worthwhile looking at it again now.

There are approximately 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild and 300 in zoos and breeding centres, mostly in China.


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