Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo

Wellington ZooAddress

200 Daniel Street
New Zealand



Size of the Zoo

Wellington zoo is situated on 13ha (32 acres) of land.


Wellington Zoo is New Zealand’s oldest zoo. Its roots lie with a petition by a group of residents in 1906 requesting a zoo be established. It was at this time that the Bostock and Wombwell circus offered the city a lion that went on to be known as King Dick (after Prime Minister Richard Seddon) this was Wellington Zoo’s first animal.

He was joined by llama’s, emus and kangaroos as the zoo’s foundation. By 1912 500 animals had taken up residence in the grounds.

During 1919 the zoo was home to a pelican called Percy. He was placed in the Guinness book of records as one of the world’s oldest birds.

1927 was the year that Wellington Zoo’s first elephant moved in. The female called Nellikuthra was donated by the government of Madras. Following her three other elephants have lived at Wellington Zoo. These were called Maharanee, Nirvana and the highly popular Kamala. She died in 1983 and the zoo debated whether to get another elephant. They decided against this as they should live in groups of 4-5.

In 1949 the zoo received a grey gibbon known as Nippy. He lived at the zoo until 2008 and was the zoo’s longest serving resident as well as the world’s oldest gibbon.

In 1956 three female chimpanzees moved in and they were followed the year after by four males. A breeding programme begun as did chimpanzee tea parties. These were highly popular involving the chimps playing up as their keepers tried to give them tea. These ended in 1970.

During 1960 an orangutan named Jimmy moved in at the zoo. He came from a circus and needed to be weaned off alcohol.

In 1999 the zoo became the home of Clyde the otter. He was very good at escaping and one day went exploring in a nearby suburb. He was moved to Mogo Zoo after a few years to live in their secure enclosure.

Management of the zoo shifted from the council to a charitable trust in 2003. The council still provides most of its funding.

A new chimp house was constructed in 2007. It also features a spacious outdoor yard.

In 2012 new enclosures for the sun bears and tigers were opened.

2014 saw the opening of Grassland cats.

During 2016 a native species exhibit, Meet the Locals was opened.

Number of Animals

Wellington zoo is home to over 500 animals from more than 100 species.



A range of playgrounds are located throughout Wellington Zoo. Kids can find major play areas at the playground hub with its blue tongue lizard slide and at the Nest Te Kongha. Several play features, such as playgrounds in the Australian area and jeeps in the African area, are found throughout the grounds.

Nest Te Kongha

This working wildlife hospital features large windows where you can watch the vets in action as they treat the zoos animals.

Main Exhibits

Grassland Cats

This area provides a home for the zoos servals and houses a pair of caracals that were imported for the habitat. These caracals are the first of their kind on exhibit in New Zealand in many years.


Home to the animals of Australia the stars of this habitat are the Tasmanian devils. Wellington is one the few zoos outside of Australia with Tasmanian Devils. Also in this habitat are brolgas, dingoes, wallabies, emus and kangaroos.

African area

At the centre of this zone is a savannah with nyala, giraffe, ostrich and guineafowl. Surrounding this are habitats for baboon, cheetah, lion, porcupine, meerkats and the chimpanzees.

Asian Area

This area transports you to South East Asia’s rainforest with habitats for sun bears and tigers.

Hero HQ

The zoo’s reptile and invertebrate house which houses chameleons, Sheltopusik, tarantulas, stick insects and other reptiles and invertebrates.

The twilight, Te Ao Mahina

Home to the kiwis and tuataras this exhibit reverses the day so that nocturnal animals are active while it is light outside allowing visitors to view them.

Monkey islands

The zoo has three islands housing New Zealand’s only white cheeked gibbons along with spider monkeys and capuchins.

Meet the Locals

This exhibit introduces you to the wildlife of New Zealand. This interactive habitat allows you to explore New Zealand as you visit species such as the little blue penguin. As you venture through the habitat you’ll encounter a farm with pigs, chickens and bees. As you approach the end lesser known species such as the Otago skink and Maud Island frog are encountered.