Interest in Natureland
Interest in taking over Nelson's ailing zoo is beyond expectations and is a positive sign that it can be saved, says Nelson Mayor and Natureland working group member Aldo Miccio.
The small Tahunanui zoo's future was placed in doubt when the trust that runs it, Christchurch-based Orana Wildlife Trust, announced last month it was pulling out.
The parent company which runs Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch has struggled to survive after the Canterbury earthquakes.
It is the second time in four years that Nelson City Council-owned Natureland has faced a crisis over its future.
Orana took over Natureland in 2008, after a call for expressions of interest to run the zoo when the trust that ran it pulled out.
The council said last month it would try to find another operator for the beleaguered zoo, or find an alternative use for the site.
Mr Miccio said at the time that the best option was to try to find a new operator, but if no-one came forward the council would have to consider the other options.
A working group of councillors Ali Boswijk, Ian Barker, Rachel Reese, Pete Rainey and Mr Miccio was formed to consider expressions of interest, to be advertised for around New Zealand.
Mr Miccio said yesterday that several expressions of interest had come forward, from Nelson and around the country. The process is open until November.
He said there was more interest than expected, so things were looking "very promising".
"My personal view is that there are some exciting opportunities for Natureland's ongoing viability in a fresh new way."
He said the working group would evaluate all expressions of interest and put forward a preferred option for Natureland to a future council meeting.
An earlier suggestion to include the Tahunanui Business Association in the working group was recently turned down by councillors. It had been suggested that the association be invited to nominate a member to help the group.
Association spokesman John Gilbertson said it was concerned about the reserve and the council's plans.
Association chairman Mike Thomas said yesterday the group was providing a supporting role for Natureland, and was happy to help where it could. The association was keen to see Natureland stay.
"We believe Natureland is important to Tahunanui, but we just want to support our members. Hopefully, the council can find a way to help out."
- © Fairfax NZ News
View obituaries from around the region
View births, marriages and celebrations from around the region
Nelsonians in pursuit of London pride
Page and Blackmore Readers and Writers Festival