Gorillas and orangutans will move to New Zealand from across the ditch to take up residence in a Christchurch zoo.
Orana Wildlife Park will next year take on three gorilla brothers previously housed at Taronga Zoo, in Sydney.
Orana chief executive Lynn Anderson said orangutans from the same zoo would join them about a year later.
Construction of the $6 million Great Ape Centre habitat would start next week and would be finished by March next year, Anderson said.
"Our role will be to raise awareness on the plight of these beautiful animals," she said.
"Threats to gorillas include hunting, disease-related mortality and habitat loss.
"Orang-utans are threatened by logging, wholesale conversion of forest to agricultural land and oil palm plantations [and] poaching for the illegal pet trade."
Anderson said the Great Ape Centre will be the first zoo habitat in New Zealand to house gorillas.
Orana would join international zoo-based breeding programmes for gorillas and orang-utans, she said.
The project also had "immense" educational implications, because the critically endangered species were "totally different to anything else displayed at the park".
Orana is already home to more than 400 animals across about 70 different species.
- The Press
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