The creation of a new South East Asia precinct – a grand design home for our animals and a world-class immersive experience for all who visit Auckland Zoo, is the most ambitious development in our 96-year-old history.

Part of Auckland Zoo’s 10-year Future Zoo development and Auckland Council’s long-term plan, the 2-year construction has already begun with the removal of our old orangutan enclosures and buildings – an exciting milestone.

South East Asia is one of the most species-rich and threatened places on earth with huge conservation issues and challenges. It is a region close to our hearts that has long been a strong focus for the Zoo and one that we are very active in supporting, as this project reflects.

"We’ve been enthusiastically witnessing a fast changing landscape as the old buildings and enclosures disappear. As the forested backdrop and surrounding planting come more into view, we are already starting to get a strong sense of the incredibly immersive landscape and experience that the South East Asia precinct will become for our animals, visitors and staff," says Auckland Zoo's acting Director, Kevin Buley.


Future Zoo - Timelapse of construction work

Check out this construction Time Lapse! This was taken from the start of April to early May and shows just how much material has been cleared and moved by NZ Strong to make way for our new orangutan and Siamang gibbon enclosure.

Auckland Zoo’s South East Asia will be an expansive new home for our orangutans, siamang gibbons, tigers, and otters. In addition, a large transparent climate-controlled dome, reflective of an Indonesian swamp forest, will be home to new species including false gharial crocodiles and a diversity of freshwater reptiles and fish.

As part of our Future Zoo transformation, we are also creating a new restaurant/function venue that will overlook our central lake and new wetlands area. With great hospitality and beautiful interiors, this space promises to deliver a true Zoo dining/event experience with orangutans and gibbons ranging and exploring from above via special climbing structures in their rainforest home.

South East Asia will be a must-see experience, that Auckland Zoo is proud to be building for its animals, staff and visitors.


Just 2 species have been moved off display. These are our orangutans, which have been relocated to Orana Wildlife Park while their new home is being created, and Madagascan ring-tailed lemurs. Our lemurs are destined to be relocated to another Zoo in the Australasian–region. Long-term the Zoo will welcome lemurs again, but this will be some years away.

Yes. In addition to orangutans, siamang gibbons, tigers and otters, we will be welcoming false-gharial crocodiles and a diversity of freshwater reptiles and fish.

Our new South East Asia precinct is due to be completed by early 2020.  It is being created in stages and we are currently focused on the orangutan/siamang gibbon exhibit. Be sure to check back here for exciting news and updates!

No. Despite this build going on, you can actually see and experience more animals when you visit! Why and how? We’ve recently introduced new birds species in our Australia precinct, now have iguana on display, and also welcomed the African antelope species, nyala. Head to the public viewing gallery at our Vet Hospital and you can also see some new and very rare New Zealand reptiles – Chesterfield skinks. In addition we will be welcoming some new animal arrivals (new species) over the coming year. Watch this space!

More animal encounters: Our dedicated Animal Experiences team of keepers are also out and about in the Zoo each day to surprise and delight you with many more impromptu encounters. These involve are additional to our advertised schedule of keeper talks/encounters. You’ll encounter our keepers in public areas with everything from birds, reptiles and bugs to our much-loved kunekune pigs, Alma and Neena. 

Areas of construction have hoardings or fencing surrounding them, and our updated map clearly shows which areas these are and what pathways are accessible to you. Our fabulous volunteers (the friendly folk in red) are also out in force to help you.

It is worth noting that a significant part of the new South East Asia footprint incorporates areas that have not previously been home to animals and/or enclosures.  In creating our future zoo, we are maximising the beautiful green spaces we have. Our central lake is being enlarged to create a bigger wetlands area, we are creating larger and more enriching homes for our animals, and improving pathways for you, our visitors, to create even more immersive experiences.


Our weekly series filling you in on the exciting changes happening at our zoo!