Eastern Courier : January 2nd 2013
www.easterncourier.co.nz 5 EASTERN COURIER, JANUARY 2, 2013 NEWS Like us on facebook to have your say facebook.com/NZautocarDashboard Wishing you all the best over the summer holidays! Sit back and relax with Dash-board. View at www.dash-board.co.nz or at any of our newspapers online. Your online motoring guide issue 7 Times are changing at Auckland Zoo About face: Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken says its focus has changed dramatically in its 90-year history and is now centred around the conservation of wildlife. Photo: JASON OXENHAM Primate performers, above: A chimpanzee tea-party performance at Auckland Zoo in the 1950s. Photo: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. Ref: 998-17 Stop in: A poster advertising J J Boyd's Royal Oak zoo. Founder: John James Boyd started Auckland's first zoo in Royal Oak in 1912. Photo: Wanganui Chronicle Our e-edition has more Visit easterncourier.co.nz and click on Latest Edition to see some of the quirkier moments in Auckland Zoo's history. By EMMA WHITTAKER Talk to any Aucklander and you re bound to elicit some memory of them having their photo taken in the mouth of Auckland Zoo s concrete dragon. Aim for anyone over about 30 and they should be able to tell you about taking a ride on Kashin the elephant. Go back another gener- ation and you ll probably even hear stories about the chimpanzee tea parties. In the years since it opened on December 17, 1922, Auckland Zoo has become a staple attraction for the city. But its story actually begins about a decade earlier in a suburban street in Royal Oak. In 1911 businessman and future Auckland mayor John James Boyd bought a plot of land on Boyd Ave, off Symonds St, with the inten- tion of setting up the city s first zoo. He already had animal parks in Christchurch and Whanganui and despite some complaints from neigh- bours, and the concerns of officials, the laws of the day meant local councils had no power to stop him. The zoo got the go-ahead, but it was to be the begin- ning of a tumultuous 10-year war between Mr Boyd and the Onehunga Borough Council. When the park finally opened in February 1912 it was a hit with visitors. Not surprisingly though, it started generating com- plaints from neighbours. It was very much a zoo of its time, historian Lisa Truttman says. He had between 600 to 2000 specimens, a lot of them would have been small birds, but in a five to seven- acre section of land it boggles the mind. He must have just had cages and cages upon cages, she says. Mr Boyd also had an on site abattoir where he would kill horses, stray cats and calves to feed the animals. No wonder the neigh- bours complained, Ms Trut- tman says. One minute you re in this quiet, leafy, residential sub- urb and suddenly this ani- mal park appears, complete with the kids and a brass band on Sundays. Around the Christmas of 1917, at the time Mr Boyd was the mayor, a young lion cub escaped into a nearby paddock where there were some cows with their calves. The cows forced it back into a hedge where it was cowering through fear of these giant horned beasts when it was spotted by some servicemen on leave, Ms Truttman says. They lassoed it like the wild west and hauled it back to its cage. By 1919 the war over the zoo s place in Royal Oak was still raging. With a new mayor came a bylaw banning the zoo and a system of fining Mr Boyd for each day his attraction remained open. To avoid the fines Mr Boyd loaded his animals on to trucks and took them on a North Island tour. When he returned the fines started again and by 1921 he realised the writing was on the wall. In June 1922 Mr Boyd asked the Auckland City Council for the third time if it would like to take his ani- mals and the offer was accepted. The council bought 11 lions, six bears, and two wolves for £800. The rest of Mr Boyd s ani- mals were sold to other zoos and private buyers. Six months later the Auck- land Zoological Park opened its gates in Western Springs. By 1956 it was decided that the zoo needed more of an entertainment factor and chimpanzee tea parties were introduced. They were stopped in the early 1960s as attitudes towards captive animals began to change, but one of the chimpanzees, Janie, is still alive and is one of the zoo s oldest residents. The big hit in the 1970s was the arrival of Kashin the elephant. The zoo has undergone enormous change and trans- formation over nine colourful decades, director Jonathan Wilcken says. Today its attention is cen- tred around conservation. Zoos haven t just changed their focus a bit, they have fundamentally changed from top to bottom in terms of why we exist and what we do, Mr Wilcken says. The focus for leading zoos around the world is strongly and very clearly to do with wildlife conservation. All of the wildlife that we care for here in the zoo we are also promoting care for out in the wild. he says. The Auckland Zoo remains a centre for advancing wild- life veterinary medicine and Mr Wilcken says its vets are increasingly being called on by the Conservation Depart- ment to help in the outdoors. Over the past decade there has also been a move to showcase native species. In 2011 the zoo unveiled Te Wao Nui. The $16 million precinct is the largest and most signifi- cant development in the zoo s history and houses hundreds of New Zealand native species. Conservation and our native species look to remain the focus of the zoo for the coming decades, Mr Wilcken says. We ve only really just started on this journey, but the more we can do this stuff the more it will build the rel- evance of the zoo for people.
December 26th 2012
January 9th 2013