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The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has today enacted powers under the Biosecurity Act 1993 and temporarily closed the Zion Wildlife Gardens near Whangarei to the public in the wake of this week’s death of a keeper at the park.
The park will be closed until MAF is satisfied that it is able to consistently comply with the animal welfare and enclosure requirements for zoos and wildlife parks. At this point in time, MAF is ensuring that the welfare of the animals is not compromised and the park is being well managed. There is no intention to euthanase any of the animals.
The Department of Labour has also served two Improvement Notices on the park and the Department will be working with the park to ensure compliance with the notices.
The first notice requires the park to meet MAF standards for animal enclosures.
The second requires the park to institute interim safety measures to protect staff where segregation from animals is not possible.
Improvement notices require a workplace to improve its health and safety so people are not put at risk of harm. More information is available at:
The management of Zion Wildlife Gardens is fully co-operating with the measures.
By way of background, zoos and wildlife parks in New Zealand are subject to legal requirements set out in the Containment Facilities Standard for Zoo Animals. This document is available on the MAF Biosecurity New Zealand website:
MAF was well through a scheduled review of the zoo standard at the time of this week’s incident. This review includes the guidelines for close animal contact and ‘encounters’ but was not prompted by any specific event. As part of the standard review, MAF is working closely with New Zealand’s zoo industry and international experts in the field. The zoo standard review will be informed by the outcomes of any MAF or Department of Labour investigations.
There will be no further comment made by either MAF or the Department of Labour until further notice.