We usually try to incorporate a wildlife experience of some sort into our travels and Auckland Zoo has always been excellent over the years with a strong commitment to conservation so we took the chance to get back there on our recent visit to New Zealand.
The Zoo was an early adopter of the ‘cages without bars’ philosophy and almost the entire area has now been made over without the old style cages. This is not only so much better for the animals welfare but gives visitors a much better wildlife experience.
Auckland Zoo is divided into precincts which represent an region or habitat. The zoo is one of the top international zoo’s in our opinion yet it’s still a very reasonably priced day out. There are several cafe’s and coffee stops onsite with the usual offerings but you can get a stamp on exit which lets you come and go from the Zoo, eat lunch somewhere nearby, or bring a picnic to enjoy in the zoo grounds or next to the lake in the adjacent Western Springs park. There’s plenty to see so be ready to spend the day. These were a few of my favourite animal personalities from our recent visit.
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We did an anticlockwise circuit which meant that we started with Pridelands. This was one of the first areas of Auckland Zoo overhauled to provide the animals enclosures without bars, consequently it is now one of the older areas but is still a great modern space. There are giraffes, ostrich, rhino, zebra, springbok, cheetah, flamingo, hippo, baboons and various other species but I just love being able to watch the lions bask in the grass and sunshine on their own island.
2. Te Wao Nui
There has been a large domed aviary in the zoo for some time but Te Wao Nui is the most recently created zone in the zoo. Most of New Zealands unique wildlife are birds and many of them are flightless including the Kiwi, Takahe, Weka and Kakapo.
Before Europeans came to New Zealand there weren’t animals that preyed on birds, the exception of course being the large flightless moa that was hunted to extinction by man before European arrival. So it’s only fitting that this new section of Auckland Zoo is dedicated to the birds.
These birds are Kea, a mischievous native parrot known for ripping the window seals out of unsuspecting skiers cars and unzipping your tent while you’re hiking to steal your food. The photo is a parent bird feeding a chick that looks like it should be fledged by now.
The Lemur are one of my favourites. Back when we lived in NZ we got to go behind the scenes with these cute animals and hand feed them sultanas which they were quite fond of. They have very gentle hands but are incredibly strong if they want to prize the sultana away from you.
I could actually spend the whole day watching these gentle giants. They love their hessian sacks using them as blankets and to play hide and seek. They have a large interactive exhibit with climbing frames, platforms and ropes for them to relax and exercise on.
Sadly there is only Burma left now after Kashin passed away in 2009 but she gets lots of one on one attention and love from her keepers. At 32 years old she is still only middle aged for an elephant and I’ve heard the zoo are looking for some new young elephants to give Burma a new family. I hope they find some that are suitable soon, elephants are social creatures and I’m sure she would love some company.
All the usual kangaroos, wallabies and colourful parrots have a home in the Australia section but this new brolga chick stole my heart. So cute and not something you’re going to see every day. We were extra lucky as the parent birds put on their noisy dance display just as we arrived which is also something quite special.
The zoo has three Sumatran tigers which is quite impressive considering there are only believed to be around 400 surviving in the remaining pockets of Indonesian forest in the wild. Berani was born at the zoo and two of his brothers also born here have gone on to Australia to continue the captive breeding programme in an attempt to save them from extinction.
Auckland Zoo was a great day out with the family. It’s easy walking and for the younger and older visitors and there are plenty of rest spots scattered around. To get the most our of your visit I’d recommend you hold onto the map they give you at the entry, it lists out many of the animal encounters so you can plan to be at the ones you particularly \want to see. It will also help you plan your route and make sure you don’t miss anything. While there is a main circuit around the zoo there are plenty of detours and it’s easy to miss something you wanted to see if you don’t have a rough idea of where you’re headed.
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Have you been to Auckland Zoo? Do you enjoy visiting Zoo’s and other wildlife parks on your travels?