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Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha

Wellington Zoo wanted to tell the stories of New Zealand’s most common and most endangered animals while promoting the care and appreciation of all creatures; showing just how much they give us and what we can do to look after them.


The concept was split into two sites: Pohutakawa Farm (featuring NZ farm animals) and Conservation Champions (featuring endangered native animals).

For the Farm we created interactive displays that taught visitors about how important farm animals are while promoting animal welfare consumer choices. We really wanted to showcase each animal’s distinctive personality, intelligence and resources. To achieve this, we went big and bold.

Visitors are invited to physically ‘milk’ the cow for information, pulling on their milk-bottle-udders to discover the facts. Pigs are shown as large recycling bins, capable of processing all our waste and returning the favour with vital ingredients in our daily household items. Chickens were sculpted from old egg cartons and wood. Each chicken was beautifully hand-crafted locally. Dressed in locally-knitted jerseys, the sheep help the user discover their many uses with their large ‘feed bag’ information bales.

The busiest installation is definitely the bees. With a hand-crank power generator, visitors can set the busy bees in motion in the apparatus above. This also sends the flowers nearby shooting upwards, telling the story of the bees’ hard work collecting nectar and pollinating plants and flowers.

Conservation Champions communicates through humorous illustration, shining a spotlight on some of New Zealand’s lesser known endangered creatures. A large mural, encompassing the entire building, was designed to show the characteristics of each animal, the challenges they face, and the conservation and awareness work done by the Zoo and partners.

The end result has been immensely satisfying. Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha has been a real success for Wellington Zoo and we’ve been able to see first hand how visitors young and old interact with the displays. We’re sure the message of care and conservation has been brought home (to roost) for many New Zealanders and tourists alike.

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