This Plastic Free July, Auckland Zoo will be introducing free water stations at all its food outlets to replace single-use plastic water bottles.

From mid-July, visitors are being invited to BYO or purchase re-usable water bottles from its catering outlets and gift shop, WildZone, which will help the Zoo move closer to its goal of phasing out single-use plastic and create a better environment for wildlife and people.

Now CarboNZero certified Auckland Zoo eliminated single-use plastic bags seven years ago, uses compostable food packaging/utensils, and is working towards the removal of all single-use plastic bottles.  The new chilled water stations, re-useable water bottles and coffee cups, will be available from mid-July, and in a few months’ time new purpose-designed outdoor water bottle filling stations will also be installed around the Zoo.

Welcome Montana!

The Zoo’s Commercial Manager Angela Clarke says the Zoo is “delighted to be celebrating these initiatives during Plastic Free July, which also coincides with us commencing an exciting joint partnership with new caterers, New Zealand-owned Montana Group.

“Like the Zoo, the team at Montana are passionate about sustainable practices and waste minimisation, and in coming weeks will be offering a fantastic range of fresh locally and ethically sourced food. From its own bakery, Sudano, visitors can look forward to Montana’s Italian breads and sweet treats, and to cater to all needs, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and dairy-free/milk alternatives will all be part of the Montana menu,” says Angela.


Critically endangered turtle ingests plastic

The 106 pieces of plastic shown in this video were found in the stomach of a hawksbill turtle, which subsequently died as a result its internal injuries. It’s crucial that we limit our use of plastics and plastic bags so that they don’t needlessly end up in our oceans causing injury to our critically endangered marine species.

Working together to turn the tide

Auckland Zoo director Kevin Buley says with experts predicting more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050 if current production and practices continue, we have an urgent opportunity to “come together to turn the tide on plastic to protect our precious marine species and their ecosystems that we are also totally reliant on.”

“We can sometimes feel overwhelmed and think, that as individuals, we can’t really make a difference, but we need to remember there are millions of us. At Auckland Zoo alone, we welcome more than 700,000 visitors a year, and every little positive action we each take counts. Whether that’s switching from plastic to re-usable shopping bags and bottles or picking up plastic rubbish at the beach, there is enormous power in our collective efforts,” says Kevin.


Orua has a message for us all about recycling!

Our Sub-Antarctic fur seal has learnt to swim into a section of netting to show how easy it is for curious seals to get tangled up in plastic waste. Luckily for him we can take it off, but others in the wild aren’t so lucky.

Zoo veterinary teams’ plea; “replace, reduce, reuse, and safely recycle”

Auckland Zoo’s veterinary team knows all too well the impacts of plastic on marine life. Rare sea turtles, shore birds, and even takahē, are among species they’ve treated at the Zoo’s Vet Hospital from plastic related injuries, including fishing tackle with hooks, bottle tops, drink wrappers, balloons and plastic bags.  Staff have also come across gulls in the Zoo grounds with fishing tackle and hooks wrapped around their beaks, heads and feet.

“We’re seeing first-hand how plastic kills wildlife. Just in early June we treated a rare green sea turtle that among other issues, had 2.5m of plastic fishing twine in its intestines. Among the 15 sea turtles we treated last year, we had a heart-breaking case of an endangered Hawksbill that starved to death due to having 106 different pieces of plastic blocking its intestines,” says the Zoo’s Veterinary Services Manager, Dr James Chatterton.

“A huge problem for wildlife, and all of us, is that plastic never totally breaks down so keeps accumulating. Now, along with millions of tonnes of visible plastics, our oceans are also full of plastic micro-particles, which are in everything from plankton to fish.

“The best thing we can all do to prevent more plastic going into our environment – into our oceans, lakes, rivers, waterways, coastlines and also on land - is to replace, reduce, re-use and really importantly, safely recycle,” urges James.

We’re seeing first-hand how plastic kills wildlife. Just in early June we treated a rare green sea turtle that among other issues, had 2.5m of plastic fishing twine in its intestines.

Dr James Chatterton, Senior Vet at Auckland Zoo


  1. Auckland Zoo’s Vet Hospital team works in collaboration with Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to treat and rehabilitate sea turtles that usually hail from warm, tropical waters, but can wash up on our shores if they are weak or suffering from injury or illness – many of these turtles have been found to have ingested plastic.
  2. Auckland Zoo’s resident vet, Dr Lydia Uddstrom is currently undertaking a doctorate on the sea turtles that strand in New Zealand – research she hopes will help better assess these turtles’ likelihood of survival and successful rehabilitation through to release back to the wild.
  3. Auckland Zoo is a CarboNZero (Enviro Mark Solutions) accredited organisation working to phase out single-use plastic, and has an ambitious goal to further reduce its carbon emissions from waste to landfill by 70% by 2021.