The collective heart of Auckland Zoo and its zoo colleagues throughout Aotearoa goes out to the many thousands of people so devastatingly impacted by Australia’s worst-ever bush fires. These fires continue to rage, taking human lives, destroying entire communities, wildlife and ecosystems.

Like so many of you, we want to help support our Australian cousins. Our conservation colleagues across the Tasman, who we work with closely in many ways to help build a future for wildlife, say the best way for us all to help both wildlife and people, is to give financially to trusted sources.

To help wildlife, support the incredible work of WWF Australia who are directing emergency funds to care for injured wildlife, and when the fires clear, will be helping restore Australia’s forest homes for koala and other endemic animals.

“The impacts of these fires on Australia’s people and wildlife have been devastating. Each donation to WWF’s bushfire appeal is enabling us to direct funds to wildlife response where they are needed most, whilst investing in interventions to enhance protection and restoration as soon as it is possible to do so”, says WWF Australia’s chief conservation officer Rachel Lowry. 

We also encourage you to donate to the Zoo Aquarium Association’s (ZAA) Wildlife Conservation Fund. This Fund is now focused on supporting a large-scale, coordinated response of Australian zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums to the drought and bushfire crisis. This includes wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and bringing together the significant expertise, resources, equipment and facilities across Australia.

“ZAA’s role and abilities in responding to this drought and bushfire crisis exemplifies one of the critical roles of today’s good modern zoos where wildlife conservation science is at the heart of all we do,” says Auckland Zoo director and ZAA board member, Kevin Buley.

ZAA represents the collective voice and expertise of zoos and aquariums across Australasia and is using funds raised to rescue and rehabilitate drought and fire-affected Australian native wildlife with the end goal of returning healthy rehabilitated animals back to the wild, plus restoration, rehab and ongoing care and resilience improvement to drought and fire affected native habitats.  It’s also putting its efforts into science and research to help assess species status, habitat regeneration and other science-related projects, and will continue to support or help establish federal and/or state endorsed targeted breed-for-release conservation activities.

To assist urgent humanitarian efforts, support the highly experienced team at the Australian Red Cross. Donations to its Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund will help with everything from evacuation and recovery centres, to arranging emergency accommodation and reuniting loved ones.

If you’re visiting Auckland Zoo and would prefer to give on-site, we have donation boxes in the Zoo’s gift shop and our cafes, and all funds collected here will go to support WWF Australia, ZAA Wildlife Conservation Fund and the Australian Red Cross in their work helping wildlife and people impacted by the bushfires.

“With the scale and the depth of the devastation we are seeing at the moment – the effects of which have even been seen here with our summer skies turning red last Sunday – it is easy to start feeling that there is nothing we can do to help and that any help we can offer will be futile in the face of the destruction that currently still has so much momentum,” says Auckland Zoo director, Kevin Buley.

“However, we know that our support and help from New Zealand can, and does, make a difference to all those battling to save property, habitat and lives of all types on the numerous front lines across the Tasman. As a member of the Australasian zoo and aquarium community, we will do whatever we can at this terrifying and deeply uncertain time for so many of our colleagues and friends.”

How Auckland Zoo is helping

Along with encouraging people to donate online and raising funds on-site to support WWF Australia, the Australian Red Cross and ZAA Wildlife Conservation Fund, Auckland Zoo has also reached out to its Australian colleagues to offer whatever practical expert wildlife management and care support we can.

How we can best help koalas

Auckland Zoo appreciates that the petition to introduce koalas to New Zealand is coming out of people’s concern for koalas impacted by the bushfires. However, there is not sufficient scientific evidence and research to support the idea of introducing koala into the wild in New Zealand when compared to the potential risks to our own wildlife and ecosystems. Sadly, New Zealand already has too much first-hand experience of the devastating impacts that introducing exotic species can have on our endemic animals and environment without the proper scientific planning and risk assessment work.  

The current emphasis needs to be on supporting the work with wild koala populations and habitat in Australia. As is the case for other endemic wildlife species impacted by these recent bushfires, with the right resources and expertise, there still so much that can be and is being done, to help protect these animals in their native country.

More ways we can all help

As well as supporting emergency efforts for people and wildlife, at a local level here in New Zealand, we can all help our own environment, for wildlife and people, in a positive way, by living more sustainably.  Check out these simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.