Revamp for Hamilton Zoo chimp enclosure
Posted 5 February 2020
Hamilton Zoo’s chimpanzee enclosure is getting a major upgrade with a new state-of-the-art fence, improved public viewing areas and better access to the outdoors for our popular chimp troop.
The work gets underway in early February and is expected to be completed by the end of winter. It is part of the Zoo’s ongoing renewals programme and takes advantage of innovations in technology to improve the visitor experience and our animals’ environment.
Hamilton City Council Visitor Destination Manager Lee-Ann Jordan says it was important to minimise disruption to the chimps during the work.
“We looked at different options for managing our troop while the work was undertaken and sought advice from our local and international counterparts. The best outcome for the chimps’ safety and welfare was to keep them here at the Zoo, the place they know best.”
The chimps will spend time between their existing house, which is not part of the construction work, and a new outside area attached to the house. The area has been specially added to make sure the chimps will still get all the exercise and fresh air they need while the work takes place. Unfortunately, this means the public won’t be able to visit them during the construction period.
The chimp house is a roomy two storeys with sleeping platforms, ropes and climbing frames. Zoo staff have installed more play equipment and hammocks to increase opportunities for resting, climbing and exploring.
The only other option was to temporarily move some or all the troop to another zoo.
“Our chimps are a close-knit family group,” says Ms Jordan. “We didn’t want to split them up or move them away from their home or their extended family – the keepers and vets who care for them every day.”
The chimps will continue with their daily routine which includes sessions that stimulate the chimps and allow the keepers to assess their physical and mental health and build trust. Their health and spirits will be closely monitored, and it is expected the chimps will pick up some new skills while away from public viewing as part of their robust enrichment programme.
Hamilton Zoo’s six-member chimp troop is part of an international conservation effort. Chimpanzees are endangered and breeding programmes like the ones the Zoo operates are helping to save important species.
In February 2016, the troop’s youngest member, Chiku, was the first chimp to be born at Hamilton Zoo.
Ms Jordan says there’ll be plenty going on for Zoo visitors during the upgrade to the chimp enclosure. Upcoming exhibits will include an eel pond in the Weka Walk and a new aviary in the Parrot Court.
“We love our chimps, and we know the public loves them and will miss them while construction is happening,” she says. “We’re fortunate to have a large and wonderful zoo family and we’re looking forward to sharing the new exhibits very soon.”
Once the work is complete, the chimps will have an enclosure that they can enjoy irrespective of the weather and with new features for them to explore. Zoo visitors will get a much better look at our curious and cheeky animal friends.
Keep an eye on the Hamilton Zoo website for monthly updates on the progress of construction and our chimp family’s activities: hamiltonzoo.co.nz.
For more information:
Team Leader - Great River City | Communication and Engagement
027 808 8125