Orana Wildlife Trust is dedicated to environmental preservation and conservation of endangered species through involvement in zoo-based breeding programmes.
In this race against time to save species from becoming extinct, Orana Wildlife Park is an important link in the worldwide network of zoos and parks dedicated to the preservation of rare and endangered species. As a modern zoological park, Orana ascribes to the World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy and is therefore dedicated to becoming involved in more in-situ (in the wild) conservation projects in the future.
Orana is actively involved in recognised international and regional zoo-based breeding programmes for most species displayed at the Park. Within such programmes, wildlife facilities either “breed” or “hold” any given species. Not all institutions can breed the same species as there are limited spaces to move offspring. Therefore, the role of a “holder” of an animal (examples at Orana include, tuatara, otters and tigers) is to advocate for the conservation of that species and, if required, send animals to a breeding institution.
Examples of species successfully bred at Orana, as part of a captive breeding programme, include: NZ brown teal, blue duck and kiwi as well as exotic species such as giraffe, southern white rhinoceros, cheetah, scimitar-horned oryx and spider monkeys.
Most of the endangered animals at the Park do not belong to Orana Wildlife Trust but to the relevant breeding programme which makes decisions as to which females are best bred with which males to ensure the most diverse gene pool possible in the captive populations. From time to time animals are moved between various zoos and parks to enhance the genetic diversity of their particular species.
Visitors to the Park may not see the conservation work as much of it takes place behind the scenes. This work costs a lot and Orana is only able to continue it by generous public support, through donations and bequests.
Importantly, Orana Wildlife Park is also involved in research relating to endangered animals. The Park has carried out most of the captive research work on the highly endangered New Zealand yellowhead (mohua) in support of the Department of Conservation’s in-situ efforts.