This summer Zoo visitors can look forward to exploring more of our developing South East Asia Jungle Track, that’s seen some exciting progress since late September when construction could recommence in Auckland at Alert Level 3.

You and your whanau will be able to venture across the stunning new 35m long boardwalk extending from the primate high canopy and over the Zoo’s lake, then head into our new Sumatran tiger habitat to check it out ahead of these big cats arriving!

When on the boardwalk you could experience orangutans or siamangs ranging up above you on their aerial pathways. You’ll pass our Swamp Forest habitat (a large tropical dome) – still a work in progress and due to open later in 2022, and our new otter habitat adjoining tigers - also on schedule to open later in the new year.

While Covid-19 lockdowns have inevitably delayed construction, we’re excited to share all these habitats are edging closer to completion, especially our new tiger habitat.

The shared shelter with floor-to-ceiling glass viewing to enable visitors to come face-to-face with these felines, is almost complete, the aerial walkways for these apex predators are just awaiting installation of their rotating doors, and the waterfall, pool and beach are also done.

In addition, the tiger indoor areas and visitor pathways are on the home straight, and thanks to the spring weather, the plants put in across the three distinct areas of this dynamic habitat over autumn and winter, are steadily establishing.

Auckland Zoo has a recommendation to receive and breed Sumatran tigers as part of the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA) Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) for this Critically Endangered species that numbers fewer than 400 in the wild.

We’re delighted that we will be welcoming young tigers (a male and female) sometime in the coming months – and will keep you posted on updates. Tigers are a big cat species the Zoo has bred in the past, and we’ve been supporting their conservation in the wild for many years through Wildcats Conservation Alliance and the Sumatran Ranger Project – which in visiting the Zoo, you, our visitors, also help support so thank you!

The swamp forest will be our hottest new habitat!

It’s all action inside the swamp forest habitat– a large climate-controlled tropical dome located on the edge of our lake for Sunda gharial crocodiles, fish species, turtles, and tortoises.

In full swing now is the final theming of the habitat’s large pools, over-hangs, and beach areas, which the crocodiles will be able to haul themselves up onto to bask. These will range from sandy and swampy to rocky and muddy, reflecting the type of water’s edge environments these crocodiles would experience in the wild.

In the coming weeks once the final theming is complete, these pools will go through a special process of being soaked and cleaned. Following a third and final fill of rainwater, the Zoo’s Ectotherms team will be able to fire up the aquatic life-support system that will be essential to maintaining healthy water for the fish that will live throughout the dome’s different pools.

Dedicated Life Support System

This aquatic system is just one part of the habitat’s sophisticated Life Support System (LSS) – the beating heart of this habitat, that has its own dedicated room! It is among other ‘back of house’ facilities that also include off-display holding tanks for crocodiles, a dedicated aquarist room, and staff quarters.

This LSS room is fitted with pumps, heaters, biological and mechanical filters, UV sterilisation and ozonation to maintain clean, clear water for fish health and visitor viewing.  Also controlled from this LSS room is the complex heating, cooling, humidity, and rainfall systems.

All these systems, combined with the design and properties of the amazing EFTE transparent dome roof, help create and maintain the perfect year-round tropical (28 degrees Celsius) environment for both animals and plants.

Swamp forest and lakeside planting

Planting for this swamp forest is now well underway. Dozens of plants, notably a range of Chamaedorea species (exotic tropical palms) are now in, and there’s many hundreds more plants, and a range of species, still to come.

These first plants (between 3.5m – 4m high and 1 m wide) have plenty more growing to do – and to assist this and keep them hydrated while they establish and get used to their new environment, the Zoo’s Horticulture team keeps them watered daily. Shade cloth over key areas of the EFTE roof also helps keep them cool, while construction works continue.

Major planting is also taking place around the Zoo’s lake, as part of creating the lush immersive environment of our South East Asia Jungle Track – a mix of exotic and native species, with many plants transplanted and recycled from other areas of the Zoo.  

Stay tuned via our social channels for further updates about the progress of our South East Asia Jungle Track - the biggest development in our Zoo’s almost 100-year history!