Wellington Zoo is dedicated to giving our animals a really good life. We founded an Animal Welfare Committee in 2014 to ensure that the animals at Wellington Zoo are treated with dignity and respect, that their quality of life needs are met, and that Wellington Zoo is positioned as an industry leader, an advocate and an authority on animal welfare best practice.

As a member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), we are proud to have been accredited under their Animal Welfare Accreditation.

Wellington Zoo is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and follows the animal welfare strategy Caring for Wildlife: The World Aquarium and Zoo Association Animal Welfare Strategy.

At Wellington Zoo we use the Five Domains of Animal Welfare to ensure our animals are healthy and happy. This model assesses not only the physical well-being of our animals but also their emotional and mental state, and takes into consideration the animal’s behavioural and physiological needs.

How we care for our animals

Veterinary Care

The Nest Te Kōhanga is Wellington Zoo's animal hospital and centre for native wildlife. Our highly skilled Veterinary Team have all the state of the art equipment they need to provide first-class care for our animals, and for any wild animals that need our help.

This award-winning conservation hub contains a number of treatment and surgery rooms, recovery spaces and aviaries, and a salt water pool. This means we can treat almost every animal here – but we need to make house calls to our Giraffes, as they’re a little on the tall side.

On a typical day our Veterinary Team work with Zoo Keepers to carry out health checks, take x-rays and blood samples, administer medication, and perform surgery. They also use forms of enrichment to rehabilitate injured animals that need physiotherapy and fitness training.

Keeper Care

It’s never a dull day for our Wellington Zoo Keepers! A day at work takes them from cleaning an enclosure, doing maintenance on the habitat and preparing food right through to one-on-one interactions with our animals by training, the introduction of new animals, health checks, and administering medicine. There’s also a good dose of quietly observing animal behaviour, and lots of thorough record keeping. A Zoo Keeper also needs to keep up with the latest research on animal care and behaviour to make sure that Wellington Zoo is giving absolute gold star care to our animals.


Behavioural enrichment is crucial for animals in human care. It helps animals to keep their brains and bodies active, encourages them to use their senses, and enhances their behavioural, physical, social, cognitive, and psychological well-being.

Animals naturally spend a lot of their day foraging for food, so we incorporate enrichment into their diet to encourage this behaviour. Other forms of enrichment can include introducing new scents and novel objects to encourage animals to investigate their environments.

Transparency and Openness in Animal Research, Testing and Teaching

Wellington Zoo is a modern, creative, and world-leading zoo. Everything we do is guided by our kaupapa Me tiaki, kia ora! We must look after the environment, so all life will flourish. Our dedicated and professional Zoo whānau are champions for the welfare of all wildlife and are committed to ensuring the best possible environment for the animals in our care. We seek to actively connect locally, nationally, and globally to work together and to make a difference for animals and the wild places they call home.


A key aspect of Wellington Zoo’s strategy involves the use of science-based animal welfare practices. Animal care is what we provide for the animals at the Zoo, animal welfare is what the animals experience. As a progressive zoo, we are continually seeking to improve our animal care in line with advancements in science and international best practice.


Globally, animals are sometimes used in scientific research, testing and teaching (RTT). As part of our approach to transparency and openness, Wellington Zoo provides this statement for animals in our care.


At Wellington Zoo research with little to no direct impact on animals is undertaken – for example behavioural observation studies of animals living in Zoo habitats, or the taking of samples during planned veterinary procedures. No testing is undertaken on animals in the Zoo’s care. Te Kōhanga The Nest is a teaching veterinary hospital, however no animal procedures are undertaken for the sole purpose of teaching.


Wellington Zoo’s Animal Welfare Committee monitors and supports the Zoo in performing its responsibilities and striving towards best practice across all aspects of animal welfare. This committee is a mix of Zoo staff and external representatives who help maintain the Zoo’s reputation as a leader, advocate and authority on animal welfare matters. The Committee meet four times per year.


Wellington Zoo is a signatory to the Australia and New Zealand Committee for the Care of Animals used in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART) Openness Agreement on Animal Research and Teaching in New Zealand. This Openness Agreement promotes greater transparency in animal-based research and teaching, encourages communication between the community and research and teaching institutions who undertake research with animals, and drives continuous improvements in animal care to ensure the highest standards of welfare.


There are five commitments for signatories to the ANZCCART Openness Agreement:

  1. We will be clear about why and how we use animals in research and teaching.
  2. We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our use of animals in research and teaching.
  3. We will enhance our communications with tangata whenua about our use of animals in research and teaching.
  4. We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the community to find out about research and teaching using animals.
  5. We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.


You can find out more about the ANZCCART Openness Agreement here.


This statement was approved by the Wellington Zoo Animal Welfare Committee.