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Wellington Zoo Chimpanzee Enclosure Redevelopment

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Chlidonias, 28 Nov 2017.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Extensive upgrade planned for Zoo Chimpanzee habitat | Scoop News

    Wellington Zoo’s chimpanzees will be seeing an update to their habitat in 2018 thanks to a new project supported with funding from Pub Charity Limited and Wellington City Council.The upgrade will provide an improved environment for the chimpanzees, as well as giving visitors the opportunity to have a more immersive experience.

    The plans to improve the habitat for the largest chimpanzee troupe in New Zealand are still in the early stages, but construction at this stage is expected to be completed mid to late 2018.

    ...
     
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  2. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Very light on details? The concept image looks very similar to existing exhibit, although maybe larger, extending further down the hill? Certainly nothing like the natural valley setting at Hamilton Zoo or anything naturalistic. I guess that would be hard with the backdrop of the city though (unless they went for an urban encroachment type approach).
     
  3. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to tell but it doesn't look any larger. They appear to have built upon the climbing structures and have retained the key features including the moat and the rock face, where some of the chimps like to gather at the talk/feed.

    I hope I'm wrong and they have extended the size. It'd be good if the community could grow in size, though they used to have around 15 chimpanzees around the late 2000s and the enclosure was always large enough.

    While Hamilton Zoo's enclosure is better for the chimpanzee, Wellington's is better for visitor interaction with the eye to eye factor you see during the talk.
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I split the above three posts from the 2017 news thread.

    I was at the zoo today, and there is a construction fence running along the path from the chimp enclosure to the elephant house, with a sign saying that it is for the redevelopment of the chimp enclosure. I didn't take any photos because it's just a fence.

    It looks like it will be a significant increase in size for the enclosure though (assuming that's what will be happening).



    For anyone not too familiar with the layout there's a map on this link: https://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/maps/files/zoo.pdf?la=en

    The fence runs from about where the Cockatoo icon is (opposite the entrance to the Red Pandas) down to the elephant house ("The Grazing Post"). The Australian aviary (i.e. "Cockatoo" on the map) is behind the fence and will presumably be removed.
     
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  5. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like the extension will almost double the size of the exhibit if all of the area you describe, @Chlidonias, is developed into enclosure space.

    Since the current exhibit is suitable for the current group size of 10 (and has indeed held higher numbers in the past), I wonder if an extension is an indication of plans to import new females and expand the community.

    The last import (of three unrelated females) was in 1992 and these females (aged 33, 35 and 37) are heading towards the end of their reproductive lifespans. Two of the females each have a son in the group so new females to breed with these sons is the obvious choice if they are wishing to expand the community.
     
  6. marmolady

    marmolady Well-Known Member

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    It looks to me as they are not increasing the size of the enclosure, but using the space for new viewing areas and human play equipment. It will be hugely disappointing if there is no expansion, with human play space taking priority over chimpanzee living space. It looks as though the changes will be to the complexity of the interior of the outdoor enclosure, which will be great- shame it's not getting bigger though.

    We're celebrating World Chimpanzee Day!
     
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  7. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, from that "concept art" it does just look like more people space doesn't it. That's disappointing.
     
  8. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    What a waste of available space! Wellington Zoo has one of the best animal/visitor face to face viewing areas I've seen in any chimpanzee exhibit. From the concept art, it looks like the only improvement on this is a viewing window, which unless the chimps happen to spend their day sitting by, will do little to enhance the exhibit from the visitor viewing perspective. If took the initiative to double the size of the exhibit, they could grow the community to the size of Taronga's and have one of the best chimpanzee exhibits in the region.
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    When I was at the zoo today I had a better look at the construction area because there's a couple of spots where you can basically look down at it. There's a digger in there currently. It's not really a very big area, despite how it looks on the map. Also the current viewing area for the chimps leaves half the enclosure almost unnoticed - you can see down the length of the enclosure but it slopes downwards sort of behind the hill. I can't really see how they would increase the size of the enclosure itself with the space available - or at least it would mean a total rebuild because of the walls.
     
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  10. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That's fair enough. The exhibit isn't small and is adequate for the current sized group. Although I would have liked it (and the group) to expand.

    The area out of view isn't used much by the chimps whenever I've visited? As a more regular visitor, would you agree?
     
  11. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    It’s really weird. Wellington’s current enclosure is the right size for their group of chimps. Maybe the expansion is beacuse they’ll increase their numbers in their current troop by importing more chimps?
     
  12. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I always see them up the end where their house is, but that's also where the climbing frames are. I think the other end simply isn't interesting for them. I guess with the addition of more structures, and visitors also being down that end to add even more interest for the chimps, it will become more used by them (saying which, of course I don't know how much they actually use that end, simply that I don't really ever see them down there).
     
  13. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    They don't appear to be expanding the size of the enclosure itself, only adding more visitor viewing facilities.
     
  14. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    Heres an update on the chimpanze enclosure redevelopment from the zoos facebook page:

    Wellington Zoo
     
  15. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Photo I took today:

    [​IMG]


    I only had a longer lens, so couldn't take any better version than this. The view is from the raised visitor platform (where the indoor housing is) looking down to the far end where they are putting in the viewing window. Concept art on the following link, where this photo would be taken from the top of the image: We're celebrating World Chimpanzee Day!

    Lots of telephone poles lying about too, for construction of more climbing frames.
     
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  16. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    The zoo's most recent email newsletter says that the chimp upgrades will be completed for a "grand openeing" on the weekend of December 15th (so, about two and a half weeks away).
     
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  17. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Some photos below from a visit today. There are a lot more climbing frames now than previously, with metal "nest" platforms at the tops of several poles. Lots of planting including palm trees - however once the chimps can access the enclosure again I can't see most of the smaller plants lasting more than a few days before being ripped out. The visitor viewing area (the new one, down the end where the new viewing window has gone in) has a play area, which will likely be interesting viewing for the chimps. The round metal things which can be seen at the back in the photo a few posts above, now have fabric inside the rims - they look like sort of "hammocks" for kids to lie on?


    Two photos from today compared to similar views from other visits:

    [​IMG]
    (from today, from the raised viewing platform)

    [​IMG]
    (from today, from the lower viewing area)

    [​IMG]
    (from 2007, from the raised viewing platform)

    [​IMG]
    (from March 2018, from the lower viewing area)


    And another angle:

    [​IMG]
    (from today, from the raised viewing platform; there is an access door visible for the vehicles to move in, and the palm trees can be seen)

    [​IMG]
    (from 2011)

    [​IMG]
    (from October 2017)
     
  18. ZooBoyNZ

    ZooBoyNZ Well-Known Member

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    The chimps were let into the improved enclosure this morning.
     
  19. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    These photos really illustrate the impovements the upgrade has brought. The platform/hammock (seen with chimps sunbathing in the bottom pic) is a favourite spot for mothers and infants. A couple of years ago, Sally (and Bakari) and Keza (and Kitwe) could often be found gathered in a 'creche.' When I visited earlier this year, they weren't using it - possibly due to their offspring being older and more mobile. The round discs (especially the higher ones) will be popular with the adult males, Marty and Alexis, who will use them for displaying. Adult male chimpanzees enjoy having a high vantage point. They don't look like they'd be accomodating for more than one adult chimpanzee, so the handraised female (Jessie) will probably enjoy using it as an escape from the rest of the community. Whenever I visit, she's always sitting in an elevated spot away from the others. As the highest ranking female for years, perhaps she's conscious of her loss of status since the hierachy upheaval of last year.
     
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  20. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I was at the zoo today (first time I've been free to go since the chimps went back in their outside enclosure). Photos below and in the gallery. The chimps were all in their usual place on the rocks or inside their house.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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