Story: Zoos and aquariums

Page 4. Zoos in the 21st century

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Centre for Conservation Medicine

The changing role of a modern zoo is reflected by the work of the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine, based at Auckland Zoo. This large facility, opened in 2006, contains a veterinary hospital, quarantine unit and research laboratories.

As well as providing health care for the zoo’s animals, staff screen and assess disease risk for native birds and reptiles that are returned to the wild. They also study the diseases that are transferred between humans and animals.

Zoo visitors

Auckland Zoo is the most popular zoo in the country, with 677,522 visitors in 2007 – three times more than Wellington Zoo and five times more than Hamilton Zoo. Auckland Zoo received publicity through the television series The zoo, based around its animals and activities.

Zoos run education programmes for primary and secondary school students, which are popular with local and visiting schools.


Auckland and Hamilton zoos are owned and managed directly by their city councils. Management of Wellington Zoo was transferred from the council to a charitable trust in 2003, primarily to raise extra funds and to develop a long-term vision for the zoo, not subject to the beliefs of individual city councillors. Wellington City Council still owns the land the zoo is on and its property. Orana Wildlife Park has always been owned and managed by a charitable trust.


Zoos and aquariums in New Zealand must comply with government acts and regulations:

  • the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and regulations outlined in the Animal Welfare (Zoos) Code of Welfare 2004, which has minimum standards for the care of zoo animals
  • the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, which sets the standards for containment of animals in zoos, and outlines the regulations for importing new species into the country.

New Zealand’s public zoos and aquariums are members of the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA). They are regularly inspected to ensure they comply with the ARAZPA code of practice, which follows guidelines set out by the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

How to cite this page:

Maggy Wassilieff, 'Zoos and aquariums - Zoos in the 21st century', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 July 2024)

Story by Maggy Wassilieff, published 24 Nov 2008