Franklin Zoo looking for new buyer
A new wildlife centre could spring up in the place of the former Franklin Zoo.
The zoo is up for sale now African elephant Mila has been relocated to the United States.
The 41-year-old pachyderm was flown to San Diego Zoo last month on a specially chartered jumbo jet.
Staff in San Diego aim to introduce her to their other female elephants and eventually put her on public display.
Franklin Zoo has been closed to the public since Mila accidentally killed her trainer, Dr Helen Schofield, in April last year.
Staff have since been working to relocate the animal occupants - the former circus elephant Mila was the last to go.
Her move was the fulfilment of Dr Schofield's dream for her to live with other elephants, a post on the Franklin Zoo Facebook page says.
"It was a massive undertaking that was only made possible by the co-operation of a large number of people. We offer our heartfelt thanks to all of them."
The facility is now being marketed by Barfoot & Thompson Papakura and real estate agent Suzy Causebrook says staff are doing "all we can" to get a new animal centre to move in.
"Franklin Zoo was hugely popular. My children have fond memories of it and if you talk to any of the local kids in the district they'd have memories of it," she says.
"It would be a shame for it not to be a zoo."
Many people, including two overseas buyers, have already expressed interest in owning the 3.5 hectare facility.
Those include a potential zoo owner and a woman looking to run an animal therapy centre for children, Ms Causebrook says. She's looking to sell it for about $1.5 million to $2.5m - a bargain for the facilities that are there, she says.
"The infrastructure there is worth many millions. The elephant enclosure alone cost over a million dollars because it's built to certain standards."
Advice on the requirements needed to run the facility as a zoo will be offered to potential buyers.