News: Wildlife centre future
News article: 15.9.14
Future of Te Anau's wildlife centre
The Department of Conservation is seeking conversations with anyone who can invest in, and potentially take on, the Te Anau wildlife centre, which houses the extremely rare takahe, native parrots and other native and non-native birds. The future of the centre is under discussion within DoC, and ownership in the future may be passed to a commercial company or other body rather than DoC.
DoC has already got in touch with some companies regarding the future of the centre and its possible take over from DoC, and is welcoming approaches from any company or not for profit organisation wishing to consider ownership. They are also welcoming feedback from the community.
The Department of Conservation says that it is concerned that some of the birds - particularly the kea and kaka - are kept in small aviaries that require investment to bring them up to enlarged, modern standards; but that it is not a primary purpose of DoC to invest in such work.
In a meeting with www.teanau.net.nz, Lindsay Wilson, Conservation Service Manager of Biodiversity, said the primary purpose of DoC is conservation, and that DoC needs to use its limited funds for conservation rather than improvements to a bird "zoo". Wilson said that the improvements to some of the aviaries housing the parrots and other birds would cost a very significant amount of money, and therefore DoC would prefer to find someone else to run the centre. If this isn't possible to achieve, then birds may be moved to established aviaries that are more suitable elsewhere, such as Dunedin.
It is impossible for tourists to see takahe in the wild, and for this reason the centre is an important tourist attraction in Te Anau, which is in sight of the mountains that house the only mainland colony of takahe, the Murchison Mountains on the other side of Lake Te Anau. The takahe can usually easily be spotted in a large, unroofed, enclosure. The centre also displays kea and kaka which are also an attraction to tourists. It is free to enter, with donations in a box encouraged.
Even though it is an important Te Anau asset, highly relevant to the community in which it is located, many tourists remain unaware the centre exists and that they have a chance to easily see a takahe in particular, but also kaka which can also be hard to spot in the wild. The centre is not marketed particularly well; signage from the town centre to the park is poor.
The centre is also a popular place for locals to take friends and family and is also used as a location for local conservation awareness-raising events run by DoC, usually attended by Te Anau and Manapouri residents rather than tourists.
The displayed birds are not part of any breeding programme, with the exception of attempts in the past to raise takahe chicks in the takahe enclosure.
To find out more about the wildlife centre, go to this DoC page about the park.