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Wellington Zoo globally recognised for sustainability

Wellington Zoo, the capital’s oldest conservation organisation, has won the inaugural World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Environmental Sustainability Award.

Wellington Zoo chief executive Karen Fifield with the WAZA Award

The Zoo cemented its pace as a world leader for progressive zoos and aquariums in sustainability when it received the award at the 73rd Annual WAZA Conference in Bangkok last week.

Wellington Zoo was established in Newtown in 1906 (New Zealand’s first zoo), and is home to over 500 native and exotic animals.

It is well-known across Australasia for its innovative and forward-thinking sustainable practices, but now has global recognition with a prestigious award.


“This award ceremony is a big deal within the global zoo and aquarium profession – it’s a bit like winning an Oscar!” says Karen Fifield, MNZM, Chief Executive at Wellington Zoo.

“We feel honoured to be recognised for the work we are doing to reduce our impact on the environment.

“Sustainability is a journey, it never ends, but we are proud of the steps we have taken to reduce the Zoo’s carbon emissions and impact on the environment; as it is vital to our goal of saving animals in the wild.”

Wellington Zoo has been an early adopter of sustainability efforts and was a deserving award winner, according to WAZA Council member Mike Barclay.

“The Zoo had an outstanding application for this award due to their unwavering, long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability,” he said.

“Wellington Zoo has been invited to share their sustainability story with other institutions on several occasions, and this has inspired other zoos, aquariums and businesses to look at sustainability within their own organisations.”
Wellington Zoo started its sustainability journey more than ten years ago, and became the world’s first carboNZero certified zoo in May 2013.

It has achieved its carboNZero certification for the fifth year running, added two 100% electric vehicles to its fleet and installed 48 solar panels. The Zoo reduces its water usage with rainwater tanks, uses an on-site composter to reduce its waste to landfill rate, has transitioned to an ethical uniform supplier and an ethical textile disposal organisation, increased the eco-sourced and sustainable products in the Zoo Shop, and switched to a carboNZero certified electricity retailer.

“I’m proud that Wellington Zoo as a progressive zoo, is leading the way in sustainability, and being recognised as an exemplary organisation that models sustainable practices with a holistic approach. We hope by sharing our journey with other organisations, we will spark the conversation about what other people can do to reduce their impact on the planet,” says Karen Fifield.