Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be inside the forest canopy? Perhaps you would experience the woosh of boldly coloured wings, zooming on by. Lightly, yet purposefully navigating the depth and mystery of the forest. Excited by the majestic creatures in your midst, coming eye to eye with the beauty, strength and intrigue of these bold characters.

Auckland Zoo’s Animal Experiences Team is giving you that very opportunity. Sitting within a beautiful, new free-flight space, it wouldn’t be unheard of to have your fringe brushed aside by the wings of a sun conure – a rare experience, considering there are less than 4000 left in the wild. Stay as still as a tree, and you will experience birds from Australia to the South Americas whizzing by. You’ll get to understand their individual personalities, learn about their characteristics, and be impressed by their intelligence.


Flight School - connecting people with wildlife

Follow our passionate animal experiences staff as they introduce you to some of the charismatic stars of Flight School!

“Galahs are such charismatic birds, and actually one of my favourites, because everything they do is just, it seems so full of energy. Even when galahs are out in the wild, when it starts raining, the way that they bathe themselves, is so full of energy. They are upside down, they've got their wings out they’re screaming, flapping. It seems almost like a waste of energy, where most animals spend a lot of their time trying to conserve energy until they actually need to use it, galahs just seem like they're doing things for fun,” says Animal Experiences Keeper Shannon.

During these encounters, you may get to see a galah collect ‘leaves’ to line their nests, a macaw retrieve ‘clay’, or even watch a rainbow lorikeet ‘pollinate’ flowers – all natural behaviours displayed in the wild. These close encounters aim to connect people with wildlife, and teach people about these animals, and their wild homes, and what they can do to help preserve them.

“It is the case now that that rainforest is disappearing. And we can ask our visitors to look at these birds, be excited by them, and realise that those that species are out in the rainforest, and it needs our help. If you learn to love something, if you love an animal, if you love a plant, if you love anything at all, chances are when you have an opportunity to make a choice about that animal, then you'll make a good choice. And that usually comes from really just thinking they're brilliant!” says Animal Experiences Team Leader Lizzy.

For any bird, or any animal at the zoo, training can be a really interesting thing for them, and also it's up to them whether they participate. It’s about offering them a choice.

Lizzy Perrett, Team Leader of Animal Experiences at Auckland Zoo

Training is something our birds frequently engage with, should they want to, and it’s a stimulating and fulfilling part of their day. Each of these behaviours can teach our visitors about these parrot’s natural adaptations and wild environments.

“It’s enriching for so many reasons. For any bird, or any animal at the zoo, training can be a really interesting thing for them, and also it's up to them whether they participate. It’s about offering them a choice. Training would be offering them puzzles to do, trying to get them thinking, trying to get them working things out. That's what they would have to do in the world every single day. And it's what it's what we do, it's what every living thing does. We all have to sort of look at our day, and adapt to it,” says Lizzy.

And the most important goal of all? Connection! The change the world needs to see.

“I personally think there is nothing more important than connecting people to wildlife. The world has had horrific bushfires, deforestation, ocean cleanup issues, climate change, and it's our planet and it's our future generation’s planet. So for people to get connected to wildlife as early as possible  is so important, because how can you protect something you've never had contact with? How can you want it to love something you've never seen? It’s so important to get those little connections early, so that we can protect the planet that we call home,” says Animal Experiences Keeper Emma.