New African savannah at Auckland Zoo

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​Auckland Zoo’s new $7 million African savannah development opens to the public today, after being officially opened by Prime Minister John Key on Thursday afternoon.

Auckland Zoo's zebra mare Itika.
Auckland Zoo’s zebra mare Itika.

The savannah is home to zebra couple Itika and Carlo, as well as giraffe, ostrich, meerkats, leopard tortoises and African masked lovebirds.

Its opening marks the start of a 10-year $120 million redevelopment programme, being funded through Auckland Council’s long-term plan.The new African savannah brings the Zoo’s predominantly urban-dwelling visitors closer than ever to wildlife in an environment that offers a real sense of adventure.

Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken said as well as providing the very best environments for animals, it “gives our visitors a unique view of the world of African wildlife, providing new and close-up views of some extraordinary animals”.

Auckland Zoo's new African savannah area was opened by Prime Minister John Key on Thursday.
Auckland Zoo’s new African savannah area was opened by Prime Minister John Key on Thursday.

“A key part of our work at Auckland Zoo, as an organisation that cares for and helps conserve wildlife, is to engage visitors with the wonder of the natural world.

“We believe that this new African savannah habitat will provide powerful opportunities for people to connect with, and fall in love with, some of the world’s most amazing and disappearing wildlife. We want people to be inspired to help ensure their future,” Wilcken said.

Good Friday’s public opening won’t include the walk-through aviary section of this new development, as the Zoo’s large flock of African lovebirds are taking a little longer than expected to settle into their new home.

But other parts of the savannah open to the public over Easter weekend include seeing the newly introduced breeding pair of meerkats from a face-to-face ground level exhibit, and from a new ground-level wildlife hide, looking out over the new watering hole to see giraffe, zebra and ostrich.

These animals can also be viewed from the aerial viewing platforms alongside the new rock amphitheatre beside the savannah.

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