The Zoo is celebrating the grand opening of the upgraded Chimpanzee habitat this weekend on the 15th and 16th of December. Earlier today, the Zoo’s Chimpanzee troop explored their new habitat and tested out all the new features, including new climbing structures, nests, hammocks and ropes.
We worked closely with habitat design and animal behaviour experts around the planning of this project, and the new features in the outdoor habitat aim to improve the Chimpanzees’ wellbeing and encourage natural behaviours through environmental complexity. The project started construction in July this year and has taken five months to finish.
Many of the new features inside the Chimpanzee habitat are environmentally friendly, such as the hammocks which are made from recycled fire hose from New Zealand Fire Service, the ropes have come from C3 and Centreport and the additional poles have come from Wellington Cable Car Company and Transpower.
Another new feature in the upgrade is the new visitor area and playground at the bottom of the habitat. The new immersive glass viewing area helps visitors to connect with the Chimpanzees and the new children’s playground is inspired by Chimpanzees and how they play.
Just like us, our young Chimpanzees are very curious and love to interact with our younger and smaller visitors. This new visitor viewing area gives our community the opportunity to see the Chimpanzee troop from another point of view and allows kids to play side by side with the Chimps.
Chimpanzees and their welfare is so important to us here at the Zoo. Chimpanzees have an incredible and complex social structure, so this upgrade will provide an environment that is not only more suitable for Chimpanzees, but also gives our community the opportunity to get a much-improved view of the troop with more emphasis on telling the important story of their conservation.
Chimpanzees are endangered in the wild, with habitat loss and wildlife trafficking being their primary threats to their survival.
The Zoo has a partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute NZ, which has a mission of empowering people to make a difference to animals in the wild.
This weekend the Zoo is celebrating the grand opening of the Chimp Park with a range of activities for families to get involved in, including making some enrichment for the Chimpanzees to enjoy and discovering how the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) helps to protect animal habitats, like the homes of wild Chimpanzees.
Wellington Zoo is also working alongside its partner, Weta Digital to create a video telling the story of our partnership including Weta Digital using the Zoo’s Chimpanzees as inspiration for the Planet of the Apes film franchise. Once the video is complete, it will be played in the new visitor area of the Chimp Park.
Weta Digital have regularly visited the Zoo over the years to capture the way in which Chimpanzees naturally move, their facial expressions and how they interact with one another so that they can accurately portray Chimp behaviours in their films. This video is a collaboration between two well-known Wellington icons and it will highlight our partnership and how we take good care of our Chimpanzees at Wellington Zoo.
We’re looking forward to the grand opening weekend and our community seeing this new space just in time for summer!
Wellington Zoo would like to thank Wellington City Council and Pub Charity Limited for their generous support to help upgrade the Chimpanzee habitat.
For more information on the weekend activities, please click here.