© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

Lockdown restrictions have put 'great fear' into Orana Park visitors

Jessica Swan
Giraffe at Orana Park
Giraffe at Orana Park  Flickr Bernard Spragg. NZ

Renewed lockdown restrictions have already impacted the footfall at Orana Wildlife Park.

Chief executive Lynn Anderson said that after the move to Covid-19 Alert Level 2, the number of visitors to the wildlife park dropped drastically.

On Wednesday, the number of visitors was a third of what they been the day before. This was of course the day after the Tuesday announcement regarding alert levels.

While it's an early development, Anderson said there was no doubt changing to Level 2 had an impact on people's willingness to visit the park.

"The restrictions being announced put great fear back into New Zealand's and the visiting public," she said.

Anderson reiterated animal wellbeing had not been affected by the decrease in visitors. She said with particular respect to the primates, thorough research had been done to confirm this. This included a researcher daily monitoring the gorillas for three months to see how they were affected by visitor frequencies.

"Basically, our animals haven't been impacted either negatively or positively by less visitors," she said.  

However, Anderson said visitors were a necessary part of the financial ecosystem for Orana to help pay the bills and take care of their unique wildlife.

As Covid-19 continues to impact tourism and international borders, financial stress was the park's biggest challenge.

"[With] international borders closed and domestic travel limited, our big trouble coming forward is lesser income due to the Covid-19 situation."

Anderson said the park would have to close under Level 3 restrictions. While she hoped it wouldn't come to that, she said another Give a Little may be set up to try and keep the park afloat if more severe lockdown measures were put in place.