So grateful for our ‘Little Zoo’ with a big heart

Wellington Zoo is a little zoo, so don’t expect grand scale exhibits, enclosures and a train to whizz you from one stop to the next. Come expecting to be welcomed to a zoo where the keepers, staff and volunteers are enthusiastic, friendly, caring and conservationists through and through. Come wearing comfortable walking shoes – this zoo is nestled in the hills that make Wellington so special.

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Come expecting amazing views that sweep across the city as far as Mt Kau Kau and the Rimutaka Ranges. And be delighted with the elaborate landscaping, mix of native plants and artful sculptures.

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Come and enjoy a taste of Africa and let yourself imagine being in the wilds.

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Let the child in you take you on a ride in a jeep and a walk through an African village.

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Come with the inquisitiveness of a child and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Within the two hours we were there four keepers approached us with open smiles, welcoming our questions and volunteering information on the animals. Every animal in the zoo has its own special story.

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Take time to appreciate the native surrounds, with trees to climb, picnic areas to relax a while, play areas for the children (and young at heart).

It’s the little things that make a difference.

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Coin spinning wishing wells, a pelican that could fly away if he chose but knows when he’s onto a good thing, native animals as well as endangered species from around the world. Kiwi, tuatara, kea and little blue penguin are just some of the ‘locals’ you can meet (check out the 2011 September/October, ‘Meet the Locals’ programme).

And these adorable Kune Kune pigs had us in raptures – kind of like ‘Ewoks’ from Star Wars, but cuter, don’t you think?!

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Come with an open mind, remembering many of the animals are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild. Don’t expect them to always be ‘on display’ or ‘performing’. They are wild animals, living in a protected environment. The keepers do their best to balance the needs of the animals in their care with the interest of the visitors so vital in funding their work.

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Rest assured these animals, though captive, are content – they wouldn’t breed otherwise and the well established, healthy chimpanzee community, with a new baby and a toddler getting up to tricks, are testament to this.

A zoo like Wellington works hard to impassion people to take a step further and think beyond the enclosures to the animals in the wild.

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And children, with their open hearts and minds, come and feel a natural delight in experiencing the opportunity to be so close to these wonderful animals. Children are the future policy makers, conservationists, landscapers and developers. It is vital that they, above all, feel positive and inspired.

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Wellington Zoo, with ‘The Nest’, is a zoo of the ‘now’. Yes, it is a little zoo. Wellington isn’t a large city, as cities around the world go. Most importantly, it is working very hard to do its very best to provide the animals in its care with a comfortable environment, where their physiological and emotional needs are well attended to.

At the same time, native wild species are benefiting from the facilities and expertise of the staff and volunteers at ‘The Nest’. Visit here to find out more.