Beginning in the middle of the 19th century,
societies for acclimatization imported fauna into
New Zealand to set up populations to be used
They also brought in some unusual oddities such as
parrots, emus, bears, lions, and monkeys for the
amusement of the public.
Popular attractions were the collection of animals
at the Wellington Botanic Gardens, Hagley Park in
Christchurch, and the Auckland Domain. From 1905 to
1910, a private zoo was run by John Boyd at Aramoho,
It featured tigers, lions, pumas, leopards, bears, and
monkeys. Several of his animals were bought from Germany at
the Hamburg Zoo.
He transferred his zoo to Auckland in Onehunga in 1911 and
operated it until the 1920s as the Royal Oak Zoological
It was then that it was forcefully closed down by an
indifferent borough committee. They objected to the zoo
smells and the fact that it opened on Sundays.
The city of Wellington Council established the first
public zoo in New Zealand in 1906 on the town belt
of Wellington close to Newtown Park. In the
beginning there was only one resident lion, but soon
came an emu, a kiwi, and a few monkeys.
In the middle of the 1920s, over six hundred animals
lived in the zoo, together with 6 sea lions from the
Islands of Auckland, an elephant from Asia, and a
tiger from India.
By current standards, the circumstances at the 2
public zoos were terrible. The resident animals were
cramped in enclosures with bars with concrete
flooring, and were not fed well.
Flooding occurred at the Auckland Zoo often and
there were always rats around.
Zoo managers by the 1970s started to implement
practices recommended by the major public zoos of
the world. There were more professional personnel
employed, as well as veterinarians.
The personnel shared their information regarding the
welfare of the animals as well as zoo management at
conferences and in professional magazines. They
started breeding endangered animals in captivity.
Zoos agreed with exchanges of excess animals, so a
fewer number of animals were captivated from their
natural habitat. Zoos started to inform the public
about the conservation of wildlife and hired
The most noticeable modification was that big
animals were often not restricted in cages all day.
At both the Wellington and Auckland zoos, gardened
natural enclosures were constructed to contain and
show groups of animals, allowing them better range
to behave and move freely.
In lieu of bars of iron isolating animals from the audience,
enclosures that were landscaped made use of ditches, moats,
glass walls, and hedges as defensive barriers. Social
animals were allowed to stay in groups.
Activities for enrichment are provided by zookeepers to keep
the animals physically and mentally challenged, such as
concealing food in various areas in an enclosed space,
pressuring the animals to look for it, placing food for apes
and monkeys in tubes of plastic, necessitating them to scoop
and probe using their fingers, exercising their fine motor
skills, and supplying otters with live fish encouraging them
to catch their meal.