Wellington Zoo is dedicated to giving our animals a really good life. We founded an Animal Welfare Committee in 2014 to ensure that the animals at Wellington Zoo are treated with dignity and respect, that their quality of life needs are met, and that Wellington Zoo is positioned as an industry leader, an advocate and an authority on animal welfare best practice.

As a member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), we are proud to have been accredited under their Animal Welfare Accreditation.

Wellington Zoo is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and follows the animal welfare strategy Caring for Wildlife: The World Aquarium and Zoo Association Animal Welfare Strategy.

At Wellington Zoo we use the Five Domains of Animal Welfare to ensure our animals are healthy and happy. This model assesses not only the physical well-being of our animals but also their emotional and mental state, and takes into consideration the animal’s behavioural and physiological needs.

How we care for our animals

Veterinary Care

The Nest Te Kōhanga is Wellington Zoo's animal hospital and centre for native wildlife. Our highly skilled Veterinary Team have all the state of the art equipment they need to provide first-class care for our animals, and for any wild animals that need our help.

This award-winning conservation hub contains a number of treatment and surgery rooms, recovery spaces and aviaries, and a salt water pool. This means we can treat almost every animal here – but we need to make house calls to our Giraffes, as they’re a little on the tall side.

On a typical day our Veterinary Team work with Zoo Keepers to carry out health checks, take x-rays and blood samples, administer medication, and perform surgery. They also use forms of enrichment to rehabilitate injured animals that need physiotherapy and fitness training.

Keeper Care

It’s never a dull day for our Wellington Zoo Keepers! A day at work takes them from cleaning an enclosure, doing maintenance on the habitat and preparing food right through to one-on-one interactions with our animals by training, the introduction of new animals, health checks, and administering medicine. There’s also a good dose of quietly observing animal behaviour, and lots of thorough record keeping. A Zoo Keeper also needs to keep up with the latest research on animal care and behaviour to make sure that Wellington Zoo is giving absolute gold star care to our animals.


Behavioural enrichment is crucial for animals in human care. It helps animals to keep their brains and bodies active, encourages them to use their senses, and enhances their behavioural, physical, social, cognitive, and psychological well-being.

Animals naturally spend a lot of their day foraging for food, so we incorporate enrichment into their diet to encourage this behaviour. Other forms of enrichment can include introducing new scents and novel objects to encourage animals to investigate their environments.