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$3.00 ISSUE # 53 | AUTUMN 2013

World-first for frogs

Baby red panda poster inside

Rotoroa’s renewal

Tigers get good news

Answering the Answering the call of the Whio. call of the Whio.

Visitors to Auckland Zoo will notice big changes at the High Country Hut in Te Wao and big it’s all about giving Visitors to Auckland Zoo willNui notice changes at the the whio (blue duck) a better profi le. Despite being giving on the High Country Hut in Te Wao Nui and it’s all about $10 whio note, (blue many duck) New Zealanders are that theonwhio the a better profi le.unaware Despite being the is facing extinction. $10 note, many New Zealanders are unaware that the whio is facing extinction. However if the Zoo and Genesis Energy have their way, New Zealanders will soon be flocking to thehave whiotheir cause. However if the Zoo and Genesis Energy way, New Zealanders will soon be flocking to the whio cause. In order to initiate this campaign at Auckland Zoo, Genesis became sponsor ofatthe High Country In order Energy to initiate this acampaign Auckland Zoo, Genesis Energy became a sponsor of the High Country

Hut in Te Wao Nui and has funded the development of new interactive displays in the Hut in Te Wao Nui and hashut. funded the development of new interactive displays in the hut. This, combined with the work Genesis Energy is doing with the Department of Conservation as partEnergy of the Whio Forever This, combined with the work Genesis is doing with programme, will hopefully go some way towards securing the Department of Conservation as part of the Whio Forever the future of the programme, willwhio. hopefully go some way towards securing the future of the whio. To find out more about the whio, visit the High Country Hut in Te Wao andabout go tothe To find outNui more whio, visit the High Country Hut in Te Wao Nui and go to

From the editor Auckland Zoo is delighted to be celebrating two world-firsts. We recently formed a unique partnership with the Rotoroa Island Trust to create a wildlife sanctuary on Rotoroa – our feature story (page 8). No other zoo has ever come in at the ground level of an island restoration project like this before, so it’s hugely exciting and takes our focus on helping conserve species in the wild to a whole new level.



Our second world-first has been successfully breeding New Zealand’s critically endangered Archey’s frog. Worldview (page 19) has more on this very ancient and weird and wonderful frog. We also have a first for you; the opportunity to be in to win an Intrepid family trip to Borneo when you take part in our Intrepid Travellers April holidays programme! Be sure to check out The Diary (back cover) and our website for full details.

4 The Feed

Short stories and long tails

7 New Arrivals

Births and borrowings

Jane Healy Editor

Zoo Alive is printed on Impress Coated paper stock produced from ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved certified mixed source pulp, and manufactured under the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System. It is printed tri-annually (Spring, Summer and Autumn/Winter). Contents cannot be reproduced in whole or part without permission of the publisher. Editor: Jane Healy Design: ROLFE Printing: PMP Maxum

Address all enquiries to the editor: Phone: 09 360 3804

8 Rotoroa’s renewal Returning life to Rotoroa 14 The Hauraki Gulf What we’re doing to help

16 Whale watch Helping Auckland’s Bryde’s whales 17 The Animal Mover It’s a moving story 18 World View

Aiding the population of tigers and frogs

20 K is for Kids

Keeping our rivers clean

Auckland Zoo is a member of the World Association of Zoos & Aquaria, and the Australasian organisation – Zoo Aquarium Association

22 Connect Orangutans upclose 23 Friends of the Zoo More great prizes to be won

Auckland Zoo would like to thank its generous sponsors

ZooAlive Autumn 2013 3

WILDLIFE SANCTUARY PARTNERSHIP Auckland Zoo and Rotoroa Island Trust have joined forces to establish a wildlife sanctuary on this 82ha isle just east of Waiheke in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, reflecting the Zoo’s increasing focus on using its skills and expertise to help conserve species in the wild.

The Zoo Quiz 1

Off limits to the public for 100 years, Rotoroa Island has been a place of sanctuary for people recovering from addiction. In 2005 it ceased this role and closed, then re-opened in 2011 for all to enjoy as an arts, heritage and conservation estate. “We’re thrilled to be joining with our Rotoroa colleagues to ensure that this island’s legacy of recovery, salvation and renewal will continue into the future,” says Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken. “In our journey to create a sanctuary for endangered New Zealand animals, we’re looking forward to bringing the wider community along with us and hope to see a whole generation of kids growing up with a sense of ownership in the renewal of this island,” says Jonathan. See pages 8 to 12 for our special feature on Rotoroa Island.

Which Te Wao Nui animal features on the $10 note?

2 Are red pandas more closely related to bears or raccoons? 3 Which Hauraki Gulf island has Auckland Zoo recently partnered with?

4 There are six subspecies of tiger left in the world. Which subspecies has the most stripes?

5 What is the main difference between a white rhino and a black rhino? Rotoroa trustee Barrie Brown, Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken, Rotoroa wildlife manager Ian Fraser, and Rotoroa trustee John Gow.

6 Are keas carnivores, herbivores or omnivores?

Lookout opens Photo: Brian Cairns

7 What treat do our keepers give to some of our animals to keep them cool during the hot summer days?

8 What is the conservation status of the cotton-top tamarin? 9 How many different species of animals with shells are on display at the Zoo?

10 When did the Safari Train stop running at Auckland Zoo? 1. Whio, 2. Raccoons, 3. Rotoroa Island, 4. Sumatran tiger, 5. Their mouth shape – white rhinos have broad, flat lips for grazing, black rhinos have long, pointed lips for eating foliage, 6. Omnivores – kea eat more than 200 different kinds of plants and animals, 7. Homemade fruit iceblocks, or meat and blood iceblocks, if for our tigers!, 8. Critically endangered, 9. Five – snake-neck turtles, leopard tortoises, Galapagos tortoises, kauri snails and flax snails, 10. 2009

Answers: 4 ZooAlive Autumn 2013

Visitors can look forward to more readily available refreshments and information thanks to our stunning new kiosk in Te Wao Nui. The Lookout served its first customer in mid-February, and is open every day from 10am.

Leap forward for rare


In a world-first, Auckland Zoo has successfully bred New Zealand’s critically endangered Archey’s frog – the planet’s most evolutionarily distinct amphibian – from a long-term captive population. Six tiny Archey’s frogs that hatched in December from fertile eggs laid in October, are now each about the size of half a pea, and growing strong on a diet of microscopic insects, bred by our zookeepers.

“It’s a massive leap forward to breed these enigmatic and extremely sensitive frogs after almost eight years, and hugely exciting,” says NZ fauna curator, Richard Gibson. “Archey’s fame as the world’s most ‘evolutionarily distinct’ amphibian is because it’s so old, over 50 million years, and very weird! This frog has all sorts of bizarre features like no free-swimming tadpole stage, and tail-wagging muscles but no tail, which is why experts call it a ‘living fossil’,” says Richard.

Richard says perfecting husbandry and furthering everyone’s understanding of Archey’s reproductive biology is all part of developing skills to help give this frog the best chance of survival in the wild. The Zoo is hoping to have adult Archey’s frogs on display in the Night Forest habitat in Te Wao Nui by Easter. Visit our facebook page and website for updates. Worldview (page 19) has more about these awesome amphibians.

Tall stall upgrade A new purpose-built pad for our tallest residents is the height of modern with moveable walls, eco-friendly materials, and sleek equipment. Architect firms Glamuzina Patterson and Hamish Monk collaborated closely with Zoo staff to design the 175m2 giraffe house that is linked via yards and raceways to the current house. Built of locally sourced pine, the new home is fully insulated so requires no additional heating, and is 9.5m at its highest point to accommodate its towering residents. A movable wall divides two main dens so a bigger space can be created and keepers and vets have a mezzanine level to observe and interact with the giraffes, and potentially bring in small groups. Male Zabulu stays put in the current house over winter, while our girls, Rukiya

and Kiraka, will move into their new digs before June. Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan says “one very cool feature is our new ‘crush’. It’s a purpose-built area that we train the giraffe to walk into regularly. It allows us to do everything from taking x-rays to doing safe physical examinations or training for a future procedure. This new crush, has an emergency roll-out side and caters for all sizes – from a ‘small’ 2m calf to an ‘extra large’ 5m-plus adult male.”


Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan (left) and keepers Ryan Gedye, Sarah Ashton, David Crimp, Larry Lee and Kathryn McKee in front of the new giraffe house. ZooAlive Autumn 2013 5

Unmasking the bad oil Young environmental leaders are seeking to raise awareness of the palm oil issue though giving consumers more informed purchasing choices. Unmask Palm Oil officially launched their petition for mandatory palm oil labelling at Auckland Zoo in late February. Campaign coordinator Ben Dowdle says palm oil can be labelled as one of 200 different scientific names or simply as vegetable oil, impossible for consumers to avoid. “A simple change to our labelling requirements would empower consumers to be able to make an ethical choice.”

In 2011, Ben and other Pakuranga College students attended a youth leader evening at the Zoo run by our educators. It was here they first learned about the hundreds of wildlife species under threat from the palm oil industry’s destruction of rainforest ecosystems in Indonesia and Malaysia. While auditing their school’s food tech pantry, they found the lack of palm oil labelling made the task impossible – and so began their campaign.

The Unmask Palm Oil petition can be found at

Our manager of discovery and learning, Monique Zwaan says this type of scenario demonstrates the educational role that modern zoos play. “The future of wildlife will depend greatly on our future leaders. Every day, our educators are inspiring students to care about wildlife so they, too, will take actions to reduce the impact of our lifestyles on threatened species and environments,” says Monique.

Ben Dowdle (right) with the Zoo’s Peter Fraser and Tali Jellyiman.

Bags one!

In lieu of labeling, Auckland Zoo can help make it a little easier for you to shop palm oil-free. Our online Buy Palm Oil-Free Shopping Guide lists hundreds of supermarket products by category. Our Easter Goodie Guide is also a great way to shop for your Easter treats! Visit

6 ZooAlive Autumn 2013

Entertainers Rhys Darby (left) and Jemaine Clement visited the Zoo earlier this summer for a close encounter with Burma. They also took time out to support our Buy Palm Oil-Free campaign by signing some of our palm oil-free shopping bags, and we’ve got three to give away. To go in the draw,

just tell us what’s one other name palm oil can also be listed as? (Hint: you can find the answers on our website). Send your answer to: with Palm Oil-Free Shopping Bag competition in the subject line by Sunday 28 April.



Red panda

They may have been born last year, but some of our latest additions are only now ready for public viewing.

We welcomed a rare addition to the Zoo family on Christmas Eve, a Nepalese red panda cub to mum Bo and dad Sagar. The newborn weighed 100grams (the weight of half an average apple) at birth but has now tipped the scales at over 1kg, and mum is doing a fantastic job. A vet check in February confirmed we have a boy. Through our naming competition he’s been called Pabu, meaning ‘fluffy’ in Nepalese. “Pabu’s started to display his personality now, and while his mum is pretty shy, this boy’s proving to be very feisty!” says carnivore team leader Bruce Murdock. The new cub is an important addition to the international breeding programme for red panda and Project Red Panda, as Sagar’s genes are not yet represented in the Australasian region. Sagar came in 2010 from India’s Darjeeling Zoo. In return, we sent a female red panda, Khosuva to be paired with a breeding male. Pabu will be out and about by Easter weekend, which is also red panda-themed, so be sure to visit. Check out The Diary (back cover) for details about Red Panda Weekend.

Wētā ā punga

Farewells Male zebra Unyazi moved to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo in March.

Last year, six male and six female wētā punga arrived at Auckland Zoo from Hauturu o Toi (Little Barrier Island) to take part in a Department of Conservation breeding recovery programme. All of the females started laying eggs at the end of 2012, and we have now had our first group of wētā punga nymphs hatch – over 100 so far!

New generation At the time of going to print, the nymphs were going strong, and we’re hoping that this is the start of our new generation of wētā punga. Keep an eye out on our website and facebook for updates on the nymphs, and news about when wētā punga will go on display in Te Wao Nui’s The Night.

We’re also soon to farewell our female giraffe Nakuru, who was born here in January last year. She’ll be leaving us for Melbourne Zoo some time in April to take part in a breeding programme there. ZooAlive Autumn 2013 7

Rotoroa’s renew Rotoroa Island is an 82ha jewel in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, nestled off the east coast of Waiheke. Catch the ferry from downtown Auckland and you’ll be there in just over an hour. Within minutes you’ll be transported to another world. With its walking trails, regenerating bush and beautiful beaches, you’ll find Rotoroa is a stunning place to relax and get back to nature. It’s also a place you’ll find Auckland Zoo. We are here with our Rotoroa Island Trust colleagues, working together to create a sanctuary for endangered wildlife that we want you to be a part of.

Story Jane Healy Photo Dan Coroian-Vlad

8 ZooAlive Autumn 2013


Thejourney Rotoroa Rotoroa Island was closed to the public for 100 years while the Salvation Army ran it as a centre for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. In 2005, it ceased this role and in an amazing act of generosity, the Hutton Wilson Charitable Trust brought a 99-year lease from the Salvation Army and set up the Rotoroa Island Trust. In the following six years, the Trust transformed the island into an arts, heritage and conservation estate, before opening it to the public in 2011. Some 20,000 pines were felled and 400,000 New Zealand native plants of close to 50 different species, planted. Mammalian pests (all but mice) were eradicated. An ongoing biosecurity programme aims to keep it this way.

The Zoo’s role This transformation has paved the way for the next stage of Rotoroa’s renewal, with Auckland Zoo now partnering with the Rotoroa Island Trust. “We’ve just entered the most exciting partnership in our 90-year history, which signals the direction we’re heading in as a zoo, and the importance we place on conserving what’s in our own backyard,” says Auckland Zoo director, Jonathan Wilcken. “We’re extending the Zoo beyond our grounds in a way that’s never been done before in this country – to bring back and manage a wide range of endangered New Zealand species on this remarkable island that I believe can become worldrenowned.”

The Hutton Wilson Charitable Trust has again stepped in, gifting $4 million over the next five years to support this work. Rorotora Island trustee John Gow says creating a sanctuary on Rotoroa Island for New Zealand’s endangered wildlife is a natural extension to the current activities of protecting the island’s conservation and heritage. “The partnership with the Zoo brings the island closer to the city whilst creating a nationally significant wildlife sanctuary. It’s a win-win situation for both parties,” says John.

Rotoroa Island Trust trustees Barrie Brown (left) and John Gow (third right) with the Zoo’s Ian Fraser (second left) and director Jonathan Wilcken. ZooAlive Autumn 2013 9

New Zealand Dotterel

A lot of groundwork (literally!) has been done by Zoo staff on the island over summer. They’ve been slogging it out in the heat, digging and installing 45 pitfall traps into drought-affected soil. They’ve also set up 100 artificial reptile refuges on the ground to enable the safe and temporary capture of reptile and invertebrates for monitoring purposes.

Preparing for wildlife “We’ll survey for reptiles, invertebrates, and birds over an extended period to get an accurate picture of what’s surviving here. This will help inform our decisions about what other species the island can sustain,” says Ian Fraser, newly appointed wildlife manager for Rotoroa. By mid-year, a Wildlife Restoration Plan will be competed and agreed upon – setting out the partnership’s vision for wildlife on the island over the next 25 years. This will include a detailed action plan for the next five years, including what species will be introduced.

Potential Species Potentially one of the first to make its way onto Rotoroa could be kiwi. “Kiwi are really robust. They’re not fussy eaters and they thrive in a range of habitats – which Rotoroa has – so I think they’d do really well,” says Ian. Bird species including saddleback, pateke, whitehead, kakariki, even takahe, could come later. Other species being considered include giant weta, skinks and geckos, and seabirds such as petrels and shearwaters.

Phil Salisbury (left), pictured here with the Zoo’s Ian Fraser, is one of Rotoroa Island’s managers, and plays a key role in maintaining biosecurity and monitoring for pest animals on the island.

An interventionist approach Ian says the potential for the island to host a range of unique native species is hugely exciting – both for conservation and the community. He explains that the Zoo and Rotoroa will take an interventionist approach to managing the wildlife. “Some species like saddleback, for example, would require roost boxes and nest boxes, because Rotoroa’s forest is still so young. That’s the kind of management intervention we’re hoping to demonstrate, and get the community involved in. Saddleback is a species that may also need ongoing management as part of a wider Hauraki Gulf population – so there could be planned transfers among the different islands to ensure a healthy, genetically diverse population”, says Ian. 10 ZooAlive Autumn 2013

Rotoroa Island’s wildlife manager Ian Fraser (far right), the Zoo’s NZ Fauna curator Richard Gibson (left) and zookeepers Mike Chillingworth and Julie Underwood have been hard at work on the island over summer.

Community involvement Rotoroa Island ecologist, Jo Ritchie, who has played a major role in the spectacular revegetation of the island and its weed and pest control programmes, says there will be opportunities for the public to help with planting later this year. “We have 8000 wetland and forest plants that we’d love volunteers to help us plant out this winter, and will be spreading the word once dates are confirmed,” says Jo. A unique schools programme to encourage young people to get directly involved with the work of ecological restoration, is as much a priority as returning wildlife. Rotoroa Island already offers volunteer and day events, like the recently popular Seaweek family fun day and beach clean-up that also involved Zoo educators. Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken and Rotoroa trustees hope to see a whole generation of kids growing up with a real sense of ownership and pride in the renewal of Rotoroa, that they’ll then want to pass on to their children. Zoo educator, 31-year-old Tali Jellyman, also education coordinator for Rotoroa Island, is seeing first-hand what a buzz kids are getting out of being involved. Along with other Discovery and Learning educators from the Zoo, she has already taken a group of Year 10 students from Western Springs College to the island. “Students really got into activities like monitoring reptile stations and checking monitoring tunnels for animal footprints, and were super excited about the discovery of what we think was a copper skink,” says Tali. “What was also great about the day was that other visitors – from the ferry,

off private boats, and from another school, came over and listened and joined in our activities. It’s really inspiring to be working here and this early stage already seeing students and others so interested in being a part of what we’re doing. It bodes well for the future.” To find out how we’re progressing on Rotoroa, keep an eye online at, the Zoo’s facebook page, and Article by Jane Healy


num6er5 From

1911 –there 2005 were

12,000 admissions (men and women) to the Salvation Army’s addiction treatment programme on Rotoroa The Hutton Wilson Trust has gifted

$4 million

over the

next five years

to support the work of the Zoo and Rotoroa Island Trust

The highest number of committals to the island by


person was

27 times!

Rotoroa Island has

4 beautiful sandy beaches, 3 holiday homes, and

1 dormitory-style hostel

available to rent

DAY TRIPS Western Springs Year 10 students Alice Dethridge and Liam Hogan label a container to use for monitoring for Darwin’s ants at Men’s Bay.

Come and explore this remarkable island! 360 Discovery operates a five-day ferry service to Rotoroa from downtown Auckland up until 28 April, before introducing a winter timetable. For ferry timetables and fares, visit or phone 0800 360 3472

Staying over Rotoroa Island has three stunning boutique holiday homes and a hostel (the Superintendent’s house) available for rent year-round. For further details and bookings visit: ZooAlive Autumn 2013 11

Pabu Our male Nepalese red panda cub

Photo: Brian Cairns

Hauraki Gulf Eco Health Project The Zoo is coordinating a wide range of specialists to share expertise to better understand and address wildlife disease dynamics on the islands in this marine park.

Rehabilitating injured marine species, such as fur seal.

Investigating Bryde’s whale deaths.

Motuora Island

Releasing Operation Nest Egg kiwi chicks. Helping with round up and transfer of kiwi to Northland.

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Motuihe Island

Photo: Department of Conservation

Researching health and disease of kakariki for their conservation management. Assisting with kokako population management. Financial support from Auckland Conservation Fund.

Assisting with release of little spotted kiwi, and release and monitoring tuatara.

Motutapu Island Rangitoto Island

Pest plant control. Reptile surveys.

14 ZooAlive Autumn 2013

Release and post-release monitoring of shore plover and fish species. Reptile and invertebrate monitoring. Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund support for tieke and whitehead translocations from Little Barrier Island, and for wetland enhancement.

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park What we’re doing to help

Great Barrier Island

Assisting with kaka ‘habitat use’ study. Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund support to build aviary to rehabilitate injured pateke (brown teal).

Hauturu o Toi (Little Barrier) Island

Cuvier Island

Translocating wētā punga to Zoo as part of a DOC breeding recovery programme. Vet support to Hauturu’s kakapo population. Researching health and disease of kakariki for their conservation management. Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund support of tuatara ‘headstart’ programme.

Release of tuatara bred at the Zoo.

Rotoroa Island

Waiheke Island

Restoring habitat and wildlife, with schools and community engagement.

ZooAlive Autumn 2013 15

WHALEWATCH Auckland Zoo is involved in a wide variety of fauna and flora conservation projects in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. One project that may surprise you involves work with a large marine mammal called a Bryde’s (pronounced brooders) whale. Bryde’s whales are baleen whales and belong to the same group as blue and humpback whales. They like coastal, tropical and temperate waters, and can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, and off the coast of Ethiopia. Auckland is extremely fortunate to have around 50 of these remarkable marine mammals living year-round in the Hauraki Gulf, breeding and raising calves. Given its tiny population and restricted location, the Department of Conservation classifies the Bryde’s whale as a nationally critical threatened species.

Reducing ship speed Sadly, on average two Bryde’s whales are being found dead here every year. Dr Craig Pritchard, who heads up Auckland Zoo’s New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (NZCCM), is part of a forensic necropsy team that includes scientists from Auckland and Massey universities. Together they are investigating why these whales are dying. “The results from the work we’ve done so far are showing that the majority of whales have sustained significant injuries and trauma as a result of ship or vessel strike,” says Craig.

“Unfortunately, Bryde’s whales tend to spend most of their time at shallow depths, and can be hard to spot.” Currently the average large vessel speed in the Hauraki Gulf is 14.2 knots. International research has shown that if the ships reduce their speed down to 10 knots, then this greatly enhances the whales’ chances of survival. Groups including the Hauraki Gulf Forum, Environmental Defense Society, Auckland University, Department of Conservation and the shipping industry are now working towards ways to protect these magnificent creatures. “It’s really heartening to have this level of cooperation, and we’re hopeful that speed restrictions for large vessels will be adopted to protect these precious treasures in our Hauraki Gulf,” says Craig

Craig inspects whale baleen.


Instead of teeth, whales like Bryde’s have baleen, which is made out of keratin, the same as your hair and nails. Once the whale has a feed of fish/krill, it can shut its mouth and push the water out through the baleen plates. The fish stays on the inside of the baleen and the whale’s large tongue helps move the food down its digestive tract.

Fast Facts 15 metres Bryde’s whales grow up to

long and can weigh between

14 and 17 tonne Bryde’s whales are

shallow divers They mostly dive in water less than,

one body length

from the surface, making them very

vulnerable to shipping traffic

16 ZooAlive Autumn 2013


Shipping a giraffe to Australia in April is Tineke’s next big job

The Animal Mover

Former zookeeper and vet nurse Tineke Joustra is the Zoo’s Registrar. She oversees all our animal records and acts as travel agent extraordinaire, organising the moves of mostly exotic species all around the world. Tineke’s clients are ‘containment’ animals – species the government classifies as restricted in movement. The logistics, never mind the paperwork, are not for the faint-hearted! The biggest animal I’ve ever shipped was our 3.5m, 500kg giraffe Jelani to Australia. That required a purpose-built 4.2m high crate that was also wide enough for him to sit down in. Legally, it had to be fully sealed. I visited the ship and liaised with the captain to have the crate secured on the upper deck surrounded by containers. Not exactly a room with a view but sheltered from the elements. We had a vet and keeper accompany him on the five-day voyage to ensure his well-being and safety. But before we even got Jelani on the ship we had a road trip – trucking him on his crate to the wharf via a route that had no low bridges. Plus there were vaccinations, I.D. micro-chipping, import and export permits and lots of other travel documentation. Believe me, we humans have it easy when we go overseas!

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK Regardless of the ‘package’, I always check out the hold area, and advise airport staff where the crate should go. You have to consider noise levels, temperature, space, if they need water. We prefer that animals go on cargo planes. If keepers accompany them, they can then sit behind the pilot, and regularly go check on them. My biggest transfer has been moving 12 capuchin monkeys from Franklin Zoo to Mogo Zoo, New South Wales – a marathon! The most dangerous animals I’ve moved have been two Sumatran tigers and a lion.

At the other end of the scale, I organised the air travel from Sydney to Auckland of two pygmy marmosets – each weighing just 140 grams.

The most exciting part of my job is seeing the hold of an aircraft shutting or a ship departing. I’m like, yay, my work here is done! I’m also the first to see animals arriving here – like our red panda Sagar who came from Darjeeling Zoo in India – very special.

These tiny monkeys travelled in crates in the cargo hold of a regular plane. For a short flight like this, conditions just need to be basic. Think Jetstar.

My favourite animal is the hippopotamus. I love that hippos seem so relaxed and placid but are super dangerous. I’m a bit like this, pretty relaxed if you leave me to it, but don’t cross me! ZooAlive Autumn 2013 17


A driving force for tigers Auckland Zoo is proudly helping the tiger population get back on track The Sumatran tiger is a big cat teetering on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 400 animals left in the wild.

This fantastic result is due to the tireless work of a team of dedicated conservationists working under the umbrella of Fauna and Flora International, supported by 21st Century Tiger, which Auckland Zoo has supported since 2005.

The greatest threats to its survival are deforestation, poaching, and increasingly, human-tiger conflict. However, from the UNESCO world heritage site of Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra, there is some great news – tiger numbers are increasing.

As well as working alongside local communities and responding to humantiger conflicts – often in very remote areas bordering the park, a hugely successful initiative has been the establishment of Tiger Protection & Conservation Units (TPCUs).

Protecting the population

TPCUs actively monitor habitat discouraging illegal activities such as mining, logging and poaching, investigate and seek prosecution of wildlife crimes, and also respond to serious wildlife emergencies.

The 1.3 million hectare park protects the world’s single largest Sumatran tiger population, which has increased from an estimated 140 animals in 2006 to at least 177 individuals today.

Photo: Brian Cairns

Zoo Support To carry out these activities requires resources. Of particular importance in this environment is reliable four-wheel drive transport.

Recently, while in hot pursuit of some suspected poachers, among other mechanical problems, a wheel came off one of the team’s aging four-wheel drives. Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund has since stepped in to help fund the replacement of two new (second-hand) four-wheel drive pick-up vehicles, designed for the rough conditions. Programme team leader Debbie Martyr, who has worked in and around Kerinci Seblat National Park for nearly 20 years, is delighted, and describes the vehicles as “a lifeline”. “To have vehicles with wheels that turn and engines that run and don’t just sit and smoke, or half come to life and make a noise like a combine harvester with asthma, will be just wonderful! We’re really reliant on these vehicles, and this upgrade will help enormously in getting our work for tigers back on track,” says Debbie.

Wildlife Protection & Conservation Unit (WPCU) team members need trusty vehicles to help them in their efforts to protect Sumatran tigers.


Come along to our Tiger Breakfast fundraisers on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April – raising funds to help tigers in the wild. See The Diary (back cover) for details. For more about tigers visit

By Peter Fraser, Coordinator, Conservation Field Programmes. Auckland Zoo

18 ZooAlive Autumn 2013

It might surprise you that New Zealand is home to the most ancient and highly threatened family of amphibians anywhere in the world – the Leiopelmatids. Today, four Leiopelma species remain. Described as “living fossils”, they date back to before the age of dinosaurs and have barely changed in millions of years. Hochstetter’s frog still thrives locally in suitable undisturbed forest stream habitats but our other three species – Hamilton’s, Maud Island, and Archey’s frogs, are frighteningly close to extinction.

Archey’s frogs with freshly laid eggs. Photo: Richard Gibson.

Archey’s frog tadpoles. Photo Richard Gibson.

WORLD-FIRST for ‘fossil’ frog Our critically endangered Archey’s frog, the most ‘evolutionarily distinct’ (oldest and most primitive) amphibian on the planet, is in the most trouble. Found only in the mountain forests of Coromandel Peninsula and Whareorino in the King Country, it is snack food to introduced predatory mammals such as rats, stoats, weasels and hedgehogs, and is also battling habitat loss, disease, and climate change.

We did it! The Department of Conservation is doing all it can to ensure the persistence of Archey’s frog in the wild. The Zoo has been working towards additional conservation measures. For some years, we have held a small Archey’s population that has enabled us to study this frog’s behaviour and develop methods to successfully care for and breed it. Last October we got our first fertile Archey’s frogs. In December, some hatched as well-developed tadpoles. These tadpoles normally climb on dad’s back, but our adult males failed in their parental duties, so we modeled a little artificial dad from a mound of damp tissue paper, and the tadpoles seemed none the wiser! A further six weeks later, the tadpoles had reabsorbed their tails and become little frogs. As of March, we have six tiny froglets. Time will tell if we can successfully rear them to adulthood.

We are extremely proud to be the first in the world to breed Archey’s frog and rear babies. It’s a significant leap forward in our journey to protect and conserve this tiny taonga in the long-term. On hearing our news, Dr Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes at the Zoological Society of London said: “Breeding one of the most primitive and threatened species on the planet is an amazing achievement and a major breakthrough for conservation. It will help to ensure the future of the world’s most ‘Evolutionarily Distinct & Globally Endangered (EDGE) amphibian and it’s truly fascinating parenting practices.”

By Richard Gibson NZ Fauna curator, Auckland Zoo

ZooAlive Autumn 2013 19

Dd duck eye beak wing

THIS IS A BLUE DUCK Another name for the blue duck is whio.


The male whio makes a noise that sounds just like ‘fee-or’. The female makes a sound like rrrrrrr. Can you make these noises? Whio have special webbed feet to help them swim and grip rocks in fast rivers. A baby duck is called a duckling. Ducklings hatch out of eggs.

foot Photo: Brian Cairns

Match the baby animal with it’s mother

Photo: Brian Cairns


Alive Autumn 2013



What do giant kokopu, whio and longfin eels have in common?

They all need fresh, unpolluted water to live in. Giant kokopu need slow, clear streams and cannot survive in muddy water. They are one of five endemic species (only found in New Zealand) of fish whose babies get caught as whitebait.

like a vacuum cleaner to get insect larvae (like caddis and damsel-fly larvae) from under the rocks.

Whio need fast-flowing cold mountain rivers – there are only two other duck species in the whole world that do. Whio are also endemic to New Zealand, and star on our $10 note.

There are less than 3000 whio left in the wild. Humans have damaged their river habitat and introduced stoats and rats – pest animals that kill whio. Auckland Zoo is helping this special duck. This year we’ve bred and released six whio ducklings into the wild.

Whio living in a river is a sign that the river is clean and healthy. Whio have a special soft lip on their bills that works



What do ducks watch on television?



Reorder these letters to find out where we released the six whio ducklings. (Clue – the first word starts with ‘e’)

PROTECT WHAT’S PRECIOUS Keep your dog on a lead when you are near rivers or bush where whio live.

Giant kokopu

Caddis-fly larva Whio Longfin eel

ZooAlive Autumn 2013 21

Orangutans up close Orangutans are genetically 97.4 per cent the same as us humans, and one of the world’s most stunning, smart and complex creatures. For the first time, we are offering visitors the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes and experience these primates up close. Our new intimate behind-the-scenes Orangutan Experience is limited to just two people. Participants have a dedicated guide and also spend time with keepers. Activities include viewing orangutans in off-display areas, helping create enrichment items (things that encourage natural behaviours), and helping keepers place these in the orangutans’ outdoor area. “It’s so great to be able to show people what it takes to care for and enrich the lives of these super intelligent apes, and share with them why we are so passionate about doing all we can to ensure orangutans have a future,” says primate section team leader, Carly Day. The experience runs on Thursdays (11.45am to 1.00pm) and costs $240 for two people ($120 per person). Children must be 10 years or older. For further details and to book, email or phone 09 360 4700.

Come out at night These April holidays, mums, dads, kids and friends can take a mini safari without leaving town by getting along to a Safari Night at the Zoo.

WildZone Storytime

Safari Nights take place on Tuesday 23 April (adults and kids – 5 years or older) and Wednesday 24 April (kids only – 8 years or older). Enjoy a classic Kiwi barbecue and games time and then venture out on a torch-lit expedition to take in the smells, sounds and sights of animals from around the world. You’ll be amazed at who’s sometimes still up and active at night – from hippos and lions, to lemurs and tigers! For further details, costs, and to book, email or phone 09 360 4700. Bring your littlies along to Storytime at WildZone gift shop every Thursday at 10am. Live local and have littlies that love stories, songs, puppets and dance? Bring them along to our fabulous Storytime session, on every Thursday (excluding school holidays) at 10am at WildZone gift shop, which is located just outside the entry plaza. Talented storytellers Vessela and Lou have a wonderful selection of animal and nature-focused stories that they bring to life with song, counting games, dance and boundless enthusiasm! Storytime is free, as WildZone is open to both casual shoppers and Zoo visitors alike. And there’s no need to book, just show up. 22 ZooAlive Autumn 2013

friendsof the zoo news and offers for our members

Girls meet bird There’s always a chance you’ll get lucky being a Friend of the Zoo, and be approached by Zoo staff to experience something special. Friends Jo Pannell and her daughters Sophie (7) and Sabrina (5) of Pasadena were recently given the opportunity to meet a two-weekold kiwi chick at our off-display kiwi incubating and rearing facility. The BNZ Operation Nest Egg chick, named Wikitoria, meaning ‘triumph’ in Maori, had been mal-positioned inside its egg. Thanks to keepers identifying the problem and the skillful intervention of our vets – who gently broke the shell and assisted the chick out – Wikitoria made it. “It was just incredible for us to see this kiwi, such a toanga, up so close and hear its story from keeper Natalie. A treasure indeed! And what a fabulous job the Zoo is doing for kiwi,” said Jo. If you’re a Friend, be sure to have your membership lanyard on and visible when visiting. You just might be next for a special treat!

WIN The Zoo...

Jo Pannell and daughters Sophie (left) and Sabrina meet kiwi chick Wikitoria, held by NZ Fauna keeper Natalie Clark

Safari after dark

The latest series of The Zoo show, all about our animals, keepers and vets, is now out on DVD.

We know that Friends of the Zoo love visiting by day. Now we’re giving two lucky families the opportunity to come on a Safari Night to discover the magic of our extraordinary park after dark. The 4.30pm to 9.30pm experience on Tuesday 23 April includes a classic Kiwi barbecue and torch-lit adventure – where you can discover everything from lions on the prowl to hippos on the hunt for a late-night snack!

From the birth of female giraffe calf Nakuru and elephant Burma’s underwater adventure to the arrival of cheeky squirrel monkeys, this award-winning show is great viewing for all the family.

We have two family ‘Safari Night Packs’ to give away. Your family can be two adults and up to four children (5 years or older) – your own kids or a mix of yours and other family or friends.

...MEET the stars!

Thanks to Roadshow Entertainment, we have four copies of ‘The Zoo series 12’ to give to our Friends. If you win, you’ll also get the chance to meet some stars of the show – keepers Christine, Andrew and Nat, and have them personally autograph your prize.

To enter, tell us the name of a nocturnal New Zealand animal. Email your answer to with ‘Safari Night Competition’ in the subject line. Include your name and membership number. Competition closes 19 April.

To enter, simply email your name and membership number to with ‘The Zoo DVD Competition’ in the subject line. Competition closes 30 April.

Winners will meet The Zoo stars, keepers Christine, Andrew and Nat and have their DVD autographed. ZooAlive Autumn 2013 23

Autumn Whio Family Weekend

23 & 24 March / 9.30am to 5.30pm To celebrate our iconic whio (blue duck) the Zoo will have whio encounters in The High Country in Te Wao Nui. There’ll be other fun family activities including a flipper adventure challenge and a very cool blue duck race!

Easter Red Panda Weekend

29 March – 1 April / 10.00am to 3.00pm Our new red panda cub Pabu will be out and about, so come into the Zoo for your first glimpse over this Easter weekend. Plus, you get the chance to meet Rufus the Red Panda character, have your face painted, and take part in colouring-in activities.

Tiger Breakfast

6 & 7 April / 8.00am to 10.00am Enjoy breakfast right in front of our tigers! This amazing event includes a continental breakfast, special tiger encounter, auction, and behind-the-scenes tours. $95 each or two tickets for $180. All proceeds go to the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund to support 21st Century Tiger. To book, phone 09 360 3805.

Intrepid Travellers April Holidays 20 April – 5 May / 9.30am to 5.00pm Discover the world at Auckland Zoo these holidays. Pick up your passport on arrival to begin your trek through Africa, Asia, South America, and other exciting destinations. You’ll be in to win some great prizes including the ultimate prize of an Intrepid family trip to Borneo! All details, plus terms and conditions at

Mother’s Day Baby Loves Disco

July School Holidays

13 -28 July / 9.30am to 5pm Bring the kids along to the Zoo for some exciting July holiday activities. Visit our website from mid-June for full details.

Zoological Society of Auckland Seminars 18 April & 16 May / 6.30pm to 8pm

The Zoological Society offers great monthly seminars on conservation-related topics. In April, hear Emma Carol from the University of Auckland talk about southern right whales. In May, the Zoo’s NZ Fauna curator, will speak about reptiles. Seminars are held at the Zoo’s Grasslands Theatre. Students $5, adult FOTZ members $10. No bookings required. Visit

12 May / 9.30am – 5.30pm

Auckland Zoo will be celebrating all mums this Mother’s Day – human and animal alike! Show your mum the love by bringing her into the Zoo for a fabulous day that includes Baby Loves Disco from 10am – 1pm. This daytime dance party is guaranteed to get you and your little ones moving!

Queen’s Birthday Weekend - World Environment Day

1 – 5 June / 9.30am to 5.30pm

Auckland Zoo is celebrating World Environment Day (5 June) throughout Queen’s Birthday Weekend. Join us! Full details on our website from May.

Normal Zoo admission prices apply. Friends of the Zoo free to events unless specified. Last entry is 4.15pm for daytime events at Auckland Zoo.

Zoo Alive - Autumn 2013  

Auckland Zoo's official magazine, Zoo Alive. Autumn 2013 edition.

Zoo Alive - Autumn 2013  

Auckland Zoo's official magazine, Zoo Alive. Autumn 2013 edition.