Owning a zoo is a dream come true for a young Hamilton family.
Adam Can Horne, Xincai Liu and their children Cengiz, 6, and Maya, 3, will become the new owners of Pouakai Zoo in Taranaki next week.
The family have been in training at the zoo since late last year, learning the animals' daily routine and their favourite meals.
Cengiz has quickly become a favourite with the monkeys, who already let him hand feed them daily. Although it's the monkeys who have taken a shine to the young boy, it's the big cats that he admires.
"I love the lions. Aslan is my favourite," he said.
His younger sister Maya has a soft spot for the goats.
"And the tiny monkeys," she said.
The new venture will be a big change for Can Horne, who was born in Turkey, and Liu, who was born in China.
While Can Horne has a background in tourism management, Liu is a former law lecturer, and also has a masters degree in education and a diploma in early childhood education.
She hopes to use her training to develop the educational side of Pouakai Zoo.
The couple, who have relocated to Taranaki from Hamilton, had not been to the region until they saw the zoo for sale online and decided to visit to check it out.
"We just fell in love with it," Can Horne said.
The zoo, which was listed online in late 2012 for $780,000, was in a perfect location, Can Horne said.
"Taranaki is beautiful. It reminds us both of our home towns.
"I grew up in a coastal town in Turkey and Liu grew up in a mountain town in China, so it feels right for us to be here," he said.
The pair are both set to become qualified zoo operators, and Can Horne said current zookeepers Bart Hartley and Fiona Carson had been incredibly helpful.
"They have taught us so much and have really helped us to understand what the animals need nutritionally and emotionally.
"I imagine this will be a big change for the animals too. They have gotten used to having Fiona and Bart around," he said.
Liu said the family will become the zoo's fourth owners since it opened in the 70s.
"Each of the previous owners have put their own spin on it.
"The first was a great lover of birds. The second owners had the farmyard animals and Bart and Fiona have bought in the big cats.
"Now it's our turn," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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