January 27, 2009

Working with wildlife in New Zealand

Christchurch is lucky to have three wildlife reserves in the city. More than most can offer. I wrote about the private conservation park, Peacock Springs, last year here. As well as this, we have Orana Park Wildlife Trust, and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. These amazing places are both on the west side of the city, near Peacock Springs, and all feature the local, beautiful natural water springs. Here are some great private photos of Orana Park.
Water Buffalo beside one of the streams...

They are famous for successfully breeding the White Rhino.

I have been lucky to meet so many of the people associated with these places and visit them regularly. Many of the students that come to our programmes are volunteers there, and some have gone on to become keepers.
Shaun was one of my first students when I started 11 years ago, and now he is actively involved in the Kiwi Recovery Programme at Willowbank. After meeting up with him again when I took my partner to see their amazing dinner and night tour last year, Shaun agreed to came onto a local television show with me to discuss his work. It was fascinating.

As well, New Zealand has many other parks and zoos, the main zoos being in Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland.

Another past student, Chantal, originally worked with both Orana Park and Peacock Springs, and went on from vet nursing to do her 'Captive Wild' studies in Auckland.

Chantal is now working at Auckland Zoo and the Auckland newspaper wrote about her here.
She said:
I care for animals in the exotic bird section. In the six main enclosures we have a variety of Australian birds, like cockatoos, and others like the blue and gold macaws. I'm also responsible for the wallaby paddocks where we also keep mara (a South American rodent), bats and flying foxes.

I spend around five hours a day with the animals. My daily routine ranges from preparing food and making up diets through to cleaning, maintaining, and repairing cages.
When I visited Auckland Zoo, getting a special behind the scenes walk, I met up with her again when she was taking time off from her usual bird department to work with the Orang Utan conditioning programme.

These creatures are uncannily human.

Watching the keepers working with them was incredibly moving, and as I had been cautioned to stand very quietly and watch the process, all I could do was cry silently to let out the emotion.... in fact it was a day I will never forget and I often watch the New Zealand Zoo TV programme that is filmed there and relive parts of the day!

Auckland Zoo is particularly exciting as it has a Conservation Medicine Centre, with cameras showing the operations to the public, and a big glass viewing gallery where the staff can be seen working... this may seem great to the public, but the vets and vet nurses probably feel like they are on Big Brother!

This $4.6 million, 980m2 state-of-the-art facility is the first national centre for conservation medicine in the world, and is a place where visitors can view our veterinary team in action!

NZCCM VetsAccessible from 9.30am to 4.00pm daily, the NZCCM's public viewing gallery offers visitors clear views into the centre's laboratory, large treatment room and operating theatre.

For some years, one of our qualified students, Angelina, worked with us at the polytech. After returning to small animal practice, she was recently offered a six month position at Wellington Zoo.

This photo shows her administering the injection to sedate the lion as it was transferred from Wellington, down here to Orana Park... read about that here.
On Tuesday 23 December the lions left the Zoo to both complete this final rite of passage and do their bit for the conservation of their species, through a one-year breeding loan to Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch.

Malik and Zulu came to Wellington Zoo as four-month old cubs from Auckland Zoo in 2004. They now weigh an average of 190kg, a bulk that demanded all hands on deck to lift them up and into travelling crates for their journey across the Cook Strait by ferry.

Her pictures have been wonderful... so for those of you with an interest in working with wildlife as a vet nurse, I will leave you with them. Enjoy...

Red Panda eating grapes...
Spider Monkey surgery....

Amputating a damaged tail from an African Wild Dog

Do you enjoy your work this much?


  1. I love New Zealand zoo on TV we are avid viewers! plus the orang utan looks just like my husband!
    Love Tracey xxx

  2. Wow, that looks like a field I could sink my teeth in! I love wild life as much or more than domesticated animals! Great pics too!

  3. Hi, I have an award for you, if you would like to come and get it!
    Love Tracey xxx

  4. Hi, i have 2 awards for you... come and get them
    Amy xx

  5. What a great job you have, and your photographs are brilliant, I especially loved the Rhinos.

  6. Hi
    Found you thru Amy and Tracey`s blog.
    I was just in the South Island but didn`t do the wildlife parks. (to be honest I have mixed emotions about zoo`s)
    Gonna read some more, your blog is very interesting



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