How zoos and aquariums are promoting industry innovation


Zoos and aquariums are promoting inclusive and sustainable growth and fostering innovation through investment in infrastructure in areas such as transport, irrigation, energy, and information and communication technology. Investment in infrastructure is crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities. Zoos and aquariums contribute to this sustainable development goal by promoting sustainable transport, improving their organisation’s energy efficiency, designing green-rated buildings, reducing carbon intensity and emissions, and supporting innovative technology.


Zoos SA staff using battery-operated vehicles

Zoos South Australia has recently introduced a complete suite of battery-operated vehicles, whipper snippers, blowers, and tools. Thanks to a corporate partnership with Toro Australia, the new vehicles and machinery mean that the Zoos SA horticulture team has reduced their carbon footprint and is saving around 77 litres of petrol a week. The team has a variety of day-to-day jobs that mean they need to travel across the zoo, whether it is to carry browse to different animals or move new planting around. The new battery-operated additions mean they can do this sustainably, leaving no carbon footprint as they charge up using the solar power available at the zoo. The equipment also has positive welfare benefits for the animals as they produce less noise than petrol alternatives. Sustainability is incredibly important to Zoos SA, from reducing water consumption to implementing reusable signage and powering the zoo with over 300,000kW of solar energy produced each year by their 230kw solar panels.


Auckland Zoo’s South East Asia Jungle Track

Auckland Zoo has just completed its largest development in the history of the zoo. After many years of planning and construction, Auckland Zoo’s South East Asia Jungle Track (SEAJT) has been completed with the opening of the Tropical Dome. The Tropical Dome mimics a hot and steamy Indonesian swamp forest habitat teeming with plant and animal life including one of the world’s largest crocodilians - Sunda gharial crocodiles. The track is currently home to 18 different wildlife species including primates (orangutans and siamangs); Sumatran tigers, Asian small-clawed otters, Sunda gharial crocodiles, and 14 different Southeast Asian fish species, including the threatened Arowana.

The dome's climate remains at a stable 28 degrees with 70-90 per cent humidity thanks to innovative climate control technology. The SEAJT development, which took five years and $62m NZD to build, won the ZAA 2021 large-scale development habitat award.

The SEAJT features two other major habitats - a ‘high canopy’ for orangutans and siamangs that includes an extensive network of aerial pathways and a ‘lowlands’ habitat for Sumatran tigers and Asian small-clawed otters. At the heart of these interconnecting habitats, are a lake and wetlands (with filtration and water-purifying functions) experienced through the visitor boardwalk, and the aerial pathways that go out over the lake.


Auckland Zoo’s South East Asia Jungle Track

Zoos Victoria has recently partnered with family-owned coffee roasters, Genovese, to create ‘Coffee for Wildlife’, a product that supports projects that empower people to live in harmony with forests and wildlife. The coffee is shade-grown in Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, and Sumatra. By growing coffee plants beneath the shade of established native trees, not only do the plants produce higher quality beans, but they also maintain and can even help to protect forest habitat for wildlife.

The project also works to support communities and farmers in these areas. Papua New Guinea sourced beans are grown in the cloud forests of the YUS Conservation Area (Yopno-Uruwa-Som) on Papua New Guinea’s rugged Huon Peninsula and are sourced through the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program. Around 1,000 families farm the coffee, and all have pledged to protect portions of their land as habitat for wildlife, such as the Endangered Matchie’s Tree Kangaroo. So far, community members have committed to conserving over 180,000 acres of land as habitat.

The Sumatran beans are sourced from the Orang Utan Coffee Project, who work with 350 smallholder farmers in seven villages located in the Gayo Highlands in Aceh. Each of these villages borders on the internationally significant Leuser Ecosystem, an approximately 1-million-hectare area that is the last place on Earth where rhinos, tigers, elephants and orangutans all still roam. The Orang Utan Coffee Project aims to protect wildlife by preserving the remaining rainforest habitat of the Leuser Ecosystem. A portion (50 Euro cents per kg of green beans) of exports is also directed to support the work of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program.

The Ethiopian beans grow wild with minimal intervention beneath tree canopy in Afromontane forest in an area called the Bench-Sheko zone, in the country’s southwest. The coffee is sourced via a long-standing initiative – the Community Conservation of Wild Coffee and Natural Forest Management Project – that supports the community-based conversation of wild and minimal-intervention coffee. One of the central aims of the project is to empower local communities to manage forest resources profitably and develop sustainable uses for non-timber forest products. The main beneficiaries of the coffee growing are 79 local communities with forest management groups.

Zoos Victoria's Coffee for Wildlife