Zoo wants site for Tas­ma­nian Devils

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

AUCK­LAND Zoo plans to re­move a Ja­panese gar­den gifted by a sis­ter city 24 years ago to make way for Tas­ma­nian Devils.

For­mer head gar­dener at the zoo Stephanie Hay says the move is an in­sult to Ja­pan and the peo­ple who were in­volved in the gar­den’s de­sign.

The gar­den was built in 1989 in recog­ni­tion of Auck­land’s re­la­tion­ship with Fukuoaka city.

Parts of it will be put into stor­age and may be re­in­stated else­where.

‘‘I think it’s a huge in­sult to Ja­pan. It was given as a pre­cious cul­tural gift. They sent their ex­per­tise, they didn’t just send lanterns,’’ Mrs Hay says.

‘‘It’s taken 24 years for it to get to that state and to be that beau­ti­ful.

‘‘It’s part of the zoo’s his­tory. It’s loved by the pub­lic, vol­un­teers and lots of the zoo staff.’’

Mrs Hay keeps in touch with the Ja­panese mas­ter gar­dener be­hind the de­sign. Auck­land Coun­cil has con­sulted Fukuoka of­fi­cials and say they’ve been given ap­proval to go ahead.

‘‘Any­one who knows any­thing about Ja­panese cul­ture would know they won’t say no. I be­lieve it is hugely in­sult­ing no mat­ter what the Ja­panese say pub­licly.

‘‘Per­son­ally I have my doubts that there will be another gar­den. A lot of things go into stor­age and never come out.’’

A date for the re­moval hasn’t been fi­nalised.

‘‘I would re­ally en­cour­age peo­ple to go and see it. I think once peo­ple see it they will re­alise what is be­ing lost.’’

An Auck­land Zoo spokes­woman says the Ja­panese gar­den is in need of sub­stan­tial re­pair.

The Tas­ma­nian Devil de­vel­op­ment is part of a wildlife con­ser­va­tion pro­gramme that is of strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance for the zoo, she says.

‘‘In ad­di­tion, the zoo does not hold any Ja­panese an­i­mal species, nor have any in­volve­ment with pro­grammes for Ja­panese species.’’

Auck­land coun­cil­lor John Wat­son shares Mrs Hay’s con­cerns.

‘‘I would like to see the gar­den re­tained in its cur­rent po­si­tion.

‘‘It’s cer­tainly a very valu­able piece with cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance.

‘‘The no­tion of some­how pack­ing it up and mov­ing it some­where else seems a lit­tle in­ap­pro­pri­ate given the man­ner in which it was given.

‘‘Se­condly, the vague no­tion that it will be re­placed at some point in some place in the fu­ture doesn’t fill me with con­fi­dence.’’

Say good­bye: Auck­land Zoo’s Ja­panese gar­den is to be re­moved.

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