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World Chimpanzee Day celebrated at Zoo tomorrow

Wellington Zoo is celebrating World Chimpanzee Day tomorrow, with the transformation of its chimpanzee zoo habitat underway.

Saturday 14 July, World Chimpanzee Day, is the anniversary of Dr Jane Goodall’s arrival in what is now Gombe Stream National Park to study chimpanzees in the wild.

Wellington 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.

“Chimpanzees are endangered primarily due to habitat loss and wildlife trafficking, and their numbers in the wild continue to decrease,” says Amy Hughes, the zoo’s General Manager of Communication, Experience and Conservation.

“Wellington Zoo is one of two zoos in New Zealand that have chimpanzees in their care, and we care for the second largest chimpanzee community in Australasia. We hope that World Chimpanzee Day will highlight this incredible species and their plight in the wild and what we can do to save them.”

“We are working to increase our visitors’ connection with chimpanzees. As a conservation organisation, Wellington Zoo aims to connect people with animals so that visitors are inspired to make choices in their own lives that help save animals in the wild,” says Amy.

“It’s an exciting time for Wellington Zoo as the chimpanzee habitat is being upgraded, with work starting on this transformation last week. The old chimpanzee house, which has most recently housed birds, will be demolished to make way for improved viewing into the Chimpanzee Park, with the interior of the park also being upgraded.”

Artist impression of the new chimpanzee habitat at Wellington Zoo

The upgrade to the Chimpanzee Park will provide an improved environment for the troop, as well as giving visitors the opportunity to have a more immersive experience.

“Our chimpanzees and their welfare are very important to us; the main aim of the new habitat design is to increase the complexity of the environment to encourage natural behaviours,” says Karen Fifield MNZM, Chief Executive of Wellington Zoo. “We’re excited to show our community the updated concept design of the habitat upgrade, and we expect the upgrade to be completed later this year.”