$3.2m on elephants, $120k on wetas
From enormous elephants to giant wetas, running one of New Zealand’s top zoos requires an equally hefty budget.
Not including a multi-million dollar elephant deal, the Auckland Zoo has an annual allowance of $125,000 to spend on all animal movements.
And with a focus on education and conservation, rather than entertainment, the zoo racks up even higher figures on being ecologically responsible.
The 95-year-old zoo forked out $120,000 over recent years for its giant weta programme, but it’s most costly translocation in the past year has been an aquarium full of exotic fish.
More than $20,000 ($19,200 excluding GST) was spent acquiring 1000 Australian rainbow fish for the new Strangely Beautiful Australia exhibition.
Kevin Buley, head of life sciences at Auckland Zoo, said the brightly coloured tropical fish proved to be the one of the most expensive translocations in recent times, but the least expensive on an individual basis, with the fish costing just $20 each.
The most expensive individual award goes to Anjalee the 1.7-tonne Asian elephant. The eight-year-old pachyderm from Sri Lanka moved in with housemate Burma in July 2015, as part of a $3.2 million elephant acquisition project.
And from the very big to the ridiculously cute, Buley said a male golden lion tamarin, Alonzo, was one of the most expensive individual mammal imports in the year to date.
An estimated $5000 was spent on his transition from Mogo Zoo in New South Wales to Auckland - which included his food, crate, permits, quarantines and checkup costs.
A primate keeper just flew to Toronto Zoo to meet a potential new male breeding spider monkey - the trip cost $3000.
Additional projects include releasing native species back into the wild, with a total cost of $1.5m which comes in the form of staff hours and resources the Auckland Zoo contributes annually to national and international wildlife conservation. Such projects include re-establishing giant weta on Hauraki Gulf islands.
Due to the large-scale breeding programme, more than 2000 giant weta have been released into the wild at a cost of about $120,000, or $40 to $80 each, depending on size.
Anjalee, an Asian elephant, was part of a $3.2 million elephant acquisition project.