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Wellington Zoo New Capybara Enclosure

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Chlidonias, 2 Mar 2019.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    A new exhibit is being constructed at Wellington Zoo.

    For those who know the zoo, opposite the giraffe house are a row of enclosures. The left-most (if your back is to the African Savannah exhibit) is the double-enclosure for Servals and Caracals. Next is a grassy hillside paddock, more-or-less hidden by brush-fencing, which used to be the enclosure for African Hunting Dogs and after their deaths was variously empty, housed a spare Emu, or (as currently) spare male Nyala. The third enclosure, also a grassy hillside paddock, used to be for Cheetah, then Goats, then spare male Nyala. It is this third enclosure which is being redeveloped for a new mystery inhabitant.


    [​IMG]
    New exhibit under construction | ZooChat


    [​IMG]
    New exhibit under construction | ZooChat


    The fencing has been replaced with a mid-height glass barrier, but at the left is a visitor ramp leading (apparently) into the enclosure itself. A pool has been constructed up the slope a little. It is possible that only the foreground area will be the new enclosure, with a barrier between this front area and the hillside behind, although there is as-yet no sign of this being done.

    It can't be the proposed walk-through lemur enclosure because they would be over the glass wall in a minute. (The lemur walk-through had been proposed to be on the site of the baboon enclosure, which is now empty but is the next enclosure along the path).

    The only plausible animal I could come up with is Capybara, even though it wouldn't fit geographically with the surrounding African exhibits. The zoo has started a Capybara Encounter (in their current enclosure by the zoo entrance), which would explain what appears to be an access point to the enclosure for visitors. It would explain the pool which has been put in (even if it is only a small pool). And of course their Capybara herd has increased quite substantially just recently with seven babies so they probably need a larger enclosure. It would also make the viewing of them much better than in their current enclosure which is not well-suited at all.

    However, it doesn't look like a Capybara enclosure. There are logs placed in the foreground area, for example, which appear to have been deliberately positioned there. It could be a new Meerkat enclosure (if only the foreground area were to be used) although I don't think this is at all likely unless they are going to have two enclosures.

    So Capybara has to remain my pick at the moment. But it could be some completely different species to be imported.
     
  2. Zooish

    Zooish Well-Known Member

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    The pool would be unnecessary for meerkats while the logs are completely unnecessary for capybaras. The low height of the glass windows (assuming no fencing will be added on top of it) rules out many species. Maybe wing-clipped birds?
     
  3. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to tell from the photos but will the access point definitely give visitors direct contact with the animals? Could it possibly be access to a raised viewing deck within the enclosure?
     
  4. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    The front facing fencing clearly isn’t sufficient to safety contain African wild dogs but if it were, I wish they’d reinstate them.

    This article from 2014 said 4 new African wild dogs were coming that year. That never happened...

    Wellington Zoo's wild dogs put down

    I’m truly stumped as to what’s coming. It’s too big for Meerkats and their current exhibit isn’t old (or inadequate). Capybara would disrupt the African geographical theme and I think they’d have a bigger pool given the size of the exhibit if it were Capybara.

    It’s not suitable for Zebra (terrain and fencing), otherwise I’d say they were one of the most obvious omissions from the zoo’s African collection (along with African wild dogs and sadly baboons).
     
  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    No idea. The zigzag ramp from the main path to the enclosure goes right to the pale wooden uprights which is the very edge of the enclosure space (so on the first picture, that is just on the right side of the lefthand tree). The only likely situations are either that it will be a visitor access point or another glass viewing window, and the latter option seems unnecessary given that there are already viewing windows right there. However there is still a lot of wood sitting there so presumably there is still fencing or railings or something going in. I won't know until there has been some more work done on it.

    (Also, just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that the point on the left would be for unrestricted visitor access, but for a species with "encounters" like they already do at the zoo with the Capybaras and Meerkats).

    I can't see that a raised viewing deck would be of any benefit, though, for an enclosure where the animal must be small enough to be kept in by a low glass wall.
     
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  6. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to suggest a Mongoose species. Yellow potentially? Though they would obviously have to import
     
  7. Zoovolunteer

    Zoovolunteer Well-Known Member

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    How about giant tortoises? either Aldabra or sulcata would fit with an African theme.
     
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  8. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    One does not simply import species into New Zealand...
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Mongooses aren't allowed into New Zealand (with the exception of Meerkats).
     
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  10. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    Judging from the map, it seems to be located near the Australian area. Could this enclosure possibly be a second walk-through exhibit for wallabys? Tasmanian devil could also be another possibility, if it was to have the zig zagging path with a viewing window?? The enclosure seems rather large for Tortoise.
     
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  11. ZooBoyNZ

    ZooBoyNZ Well-Known Member

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    Have just contacted the zoo directly and it turns out that unfortunately... the exhibit is just where the capybara family will shortly be moving to. Pretty disappointing that this move will ruin the geographical theme of this area :rolleyes:
     
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  12. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That is disappointing. I’m really surprised they’d disrupt the geographical theme.

    I guess the next question is...what will they be doing with the old Capybara exhibit? That area of the zoo has long been something of a geographical melting point with Asian small clawed otters and the White-cheeked gibbons in close proximity, followed by South American animals. Didn’t the pelican used to inhabit one of the moats there?
     
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  13. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Hey, I guessed it correctly! I was kind of hoping for something brand new though - maybe a herd of Aardvarks. But the Capybara will definitely need more room, so it is a good thing.

    I have amended the thread title.
     
    Last edited: 4 Mar 2019
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  14. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm guessing they will simply have Capybara in two locations, at least for a while.

    The pelican was in the spider monkey enclosure.
     
  15. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That’d make sense. Maybe the male offspring will stay in the original exhibit and the female offspring will remain with the herd.
     
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  16. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I was at the zoo this morning. Some of the Capybara are now in residence in the new enclosure. There were at least five young animals still in the previous enclosure by the zoo entrance (if I were to guess, they would be males). However in the new enclosure all the animals were right up the back and hidden - I only saw two adults and a small one, so not sure how many there are in here. In the photos you might be able to get an idea of how far back the paddock extends up the hill by how small the fence at the top looks - I think it is probably about six foot high at least.

    All the foreground has been covered in sand; the hillside is all grass (so I know where I would prefer to be if I were the Capybara). The logs in the foreground which hadn't made sense before, are actually frames for low shelters, obviously with the intention of encouraging the animals to remain near the front. The pool is larger in surface area than it appears from the front (it is sort-of-visible from a distance when standing on the raised Giraffe platform further along the path) but seemed to be empty. The area to the left of the enclosure where I surmised there would be supervised-visitor-access has been shielded with brush fencing (and the door is padlocked) but I still think it is for visitors to enter the enclosure for "encounters".

    I put a couple of photos in the gallery to compare to the two photos uploaded three weeks ago.


    [​IMG]
    New Capybara Enclosure | ZooChat

    [​IMG]
    New Capybara Enclosure | ZooChat
     
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  17. JigerofLemuria

    JigerofLemuria Well-Known Member

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    I think it'd be cool if the old capybara enclosure could hold some species of smallish Asian mammal; perhaps barking deer or even raccoon dogs! :3
     
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  18. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    It used to have Collarred peccary in it, which now would be a decent link to the other South American exhibits (if you ignore the otters and gibbons from South East Asia on route).

    Personally, I wish they’d have brought back African hunting dogs into what has now become the main Capybara exhibit. Having two Capybara exhibits is overkill, so I too hope a new species will move into their old exhibit soon. An Asian species to link with the otters and gibbons would indeed be the best fit.

    Although it’d require the construction of an indoor building, I’d like to see Komodo dragon there. They are on the plans for Adelaide Zoo (and at one stage, Auckland Zoo); and are already held at six Australian zoos, including Taronga and Perth Zoo. We could potentially have a decent sized breeding programme in the region for this species.
     
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  19. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I suspect that they won't hold another species in that enclosure, and that while it might hold capybara for now, will eventually be removed when the new entrance is built.
     
  20. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    You make a good point as the entrance is very narrow and gets very congested. The open plan layout they have at Auckland Zoo is the best I’ve seen in New Zealand, truly world class. Hamilton, Orana and Wellington are very behind the times in comparison.

    I was looking at the map and can basically see three options:

    One: Build a new gift shop to the left of the cafe; remodel the existing gift shop and current entrance building into a large entrance building.

    Two: Build a new entrance building to the right of the current gift shop.

    Three: Build a new entrance building to the left of the restaurant.

    Option Three seems the simplest (and cheapest) to me; and has the added benefit of not wiping out a perfectly good enclosure.

    Please note: I am basing the assumption that Option One and Option Two are viable based on this map:

    Chris Davidson illustration - Wellington Zoo

    There appears to be a useless patch of land left of the restaurant that is completely untilised. However, it is possible this is used for some staff building or off display exhibit that is not on the map, as it has no significance to visitors. Can anyone confirm? I’ve never taken much notice of this area on my visits.
     
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