18 August 2017
Three amazing apes are on their way to Christchurch to take up residence in Orana Wildlife Park.
The Bornean orangutans will be transferred from Auckland Zoo to their new South Island home in September.
Charlie, Melur and Wanita will stay for two years while Auckland Zoo completes a major new precinct for South East Asian wildlife.
The $50m development is due to start in a few months’ time.
Orana Wildlife Park primate keepers have been spending time in Auckland to get to know the orangutans before they touch down in Christchurch.
“Come the move, my team and I will take turns working between Auckland and Orana,” says Auckland Zoo primate team leader Amy Robbins.
“This move will see these highly intelligent great apes get the best of both worlds – the security of us and the stimulation of a new environment and people.”
Orana Wildlife Park chief executive Lynn Anderson says the temporary transfer is a fantastic example of how zoos collaborate together for species’ conservation.
Charlie, Melur and Wanita will be housed next to the park’s gorillas in the $6 million Great Ape Centre, which is designed to hold both gorillas and orangutans in separate spaces.
“The gorillas have captivated visitors and I am certain people will be equally enthralled with the orangutans.”
Orangutans are known as ‘gardeners of the forest’ due to the vital role they play in seed dispersal – assisting in forest growth and regeneration that supports a wealth of biodiversity.
They are the world’s largest tree-dwelling mammal and 97 per cent genetically similar to humans.
Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open range zoo and is home to more than 400 animals from more than 70 different species.
It is owned and operated by Orana Wildlife Trust, a registered charitable trust committed to the conservation of wildlife diversity.