Marineland's seals and sea lions look likely to be making their delayed trans-Tasman flights before the end of the year.
It has been six months since the Napier City Council announced the animals were going into a 120-day pre-export quarantine period before being flown to Australia, but the process has still not begun.
Council tourism manager Neil Fergus said various problems with the aged Marineland facilities and water treatment system had been fixed and, as of June 11, all that was needed were permits from the Australian zoos that would be the animals' new homes.
Once pre-export quarantine was complete, the five New Zealand fur seals, one subantarctic fur seal and two california sea lions will be airfreighted to Sea World on the Gold Coast, Melbourne Zoo, Sydney's Taronga Zoo and Dolphin Marine Magic at Coffs Harbour.
Once they arrive, they would need to undergo another quarantine process.
The executive director of the Australian Zoo Aquarium Association, Chris Hibbard, said obtaining permits was complicated, but he expected the animals to be in Australia by Christmas.
"There's a real desire among the zoos to minimise the number of shipments, so there is discussion among them to . . . achieve that," Hibbard said.
The Marineland site, which closed to the public in 2008, will be incorporated into the redevelopment of Marine Parade, set to include a skate park, reef garden and amphitheatre.
- The Dominion Post
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