Wildbase Recovery build takes shape
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is one of the first to step where the penguins will play at Palmerston North’s new Wildbase recovery centre.
Barry visited the centre’s construction site at the Esplanade on Friday, to see the where New Zealand’s wildlife will recover from injury and illness when the centre opens by mid-2018.
Barry said the Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery facility was part of the core business of protecting threatened native species and she wanted to offer all the support possible.
The $5.6 million project, being built by Kynoch Construction, will care for birds and other animals treated at Massey University’s Wildbase Hospital in Palmerston North.
It has significant support from the Palmerston North City Council, which provided $1.3 million.
$950,000 came from Lotteries along with contributions from Manawatu businesses, including Hughes Joinery, which contributed about $35,000.
But ongoing operational costs for the recovery centre were expected to be $200,000 a year more than the existing Victoria Esplanade aviaries, which it will be replacing.
A Givealittle page had been set up to help raise funds, but Barry said she wasn’t ruling out further help from the Government.
‘‘I’m very inclined to help with this Wildbase operation across all the activities that it does.
‘‘We need to just sit down with them and see where their needs are.’’
Wildbase would play an important role in getting people engaged with New Zealand’s wildlife, Barry said.
It will offer a unique experience with people able to watch the animals as they recover at the centre.
New Zealand’s only native wildlife recovery facility, the cen- tre will include aviaries, an education centre and a physiotherapy ward.
Palmerston North City Council Wildbase Recovery project lead Aaron Phillips said some of the added operational costs were for the education centre and general maintenance.
There had been some unexpected costs, but also some significant unexpected savings, so the project was still within budget, Phillips said.
‘‘We are continuing to receive generous in-kind donations and support, and fundraising will continue.’’
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry at the Esplanade on Friday.