New homes for tigers and sun bears
Wellington Zoo opens Asia PrecinctKERRY MCBRIDE
Wellington Zoo's tigers and bears did not need much encouragement to get out and explore their new enclosures in the $2.5 million Asia Precinct.
Formally opened yesterday, the precinct has been under construction since March and will open to the public next Saturday, September 29.
The new home for the zoo's Sumatran tigers and Malayan sun bears was built as part of the zoo's 10-year development programme, with the sun bear enclosure developed to appeal to their love of climbing and water.
The new tiger enclosure has two separate sections which allow 20-year-old Cantik and her son Rokan to be kept in separate areas if necessary.
To give the new area some Wellington flavour, the zoo also enlisted a design team from Weta Workshop to create signs and sculptures of bears and tigers.
Zoo chief executive Karen Fifield said Weta Workshop had brought creative concepts to the project. "We wanted something really innovative and what they have come up with fits that perfectly."
The new enclosure was also the perfect birthday present for sun bear Sasa, who turns 6 next week, Ms Fifield said.
"The Asia Precinct is a really important milestone in our development programme."
Ms Fifield started at Wellington Zoo on the same day that Sasa was born, so seeing her in the new enclosure was an incredible moment, she said.
"The sun bears are pretty special to me. If these new surroundings help our community to understand how they can help these endangered animals, then it will mean so much to the staff here."
The zoo's attention was now turned to upgrading other enclosures, before the next large project started in the second half of next year.
The New Zealand Precinct - dubbed Meet the Locals - would provide a distinct area for the zoo's various native birds, as well as an up close and personal visitor experience with farm animals.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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