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Orana, 40 years on, has a lot more animals

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/09/2016

Forty years ago today Orana Wildlife Park opened in Christchurch with just 28 animals.

"And what it is today is an international world-class zoo," says chief executive Lynn Anderson.

New Zealand's only open-range zoo now has more than 400 animals across 70 species.

Orana has been progressively constructed over the years on a dry, stony riverbed near Christchurch Airport.

Ms Anderson says the park went through hard times in the 1990s when there were financial difficulties and many unfinished projects.

The park, which is the only zoo in the country not heavily council subsidised, was able to come through that period and start to raise funds successfully.

This included $6 million for Orana's biggest-ever project, the Great Ape Centre, completed in 2015.

Brothers Fataki, aged 12, Fuzu, 7, and their half-brother Mahali, 6, arrived from Sydney's Taronga Zoo that year.

It's a privilege for the zoo to hold gorillas, one of the most endangered species, for international breeding programmes, Ms Anderson says.

"Visitors are coming in droves to see these guys and everyone who meets them will fall in love with them," she says.

They gorillas help bring in money which is used for conservation of New Zealand species.

Orana raises 100 per cent of funds for all capital developments and to date, more than $15 million has been raised to create the zoo.

Orana opened at 10am on September 25, 1976.

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