Port Moresby Nature Park is a proud winner in two categories in the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australasia’s (ZAA) bi-annual Gala Awards event.
This official announcement was made yesterday by the Zoo and Aquarium Association after formal online presentations were done by finalists before a strict judging panel.
Port Moresby Nature Park came out a winner for the “Exhibit Design – Small Scale Development” for the Park’s construction of its Reptile Haus, the first of its kind in PNG as well as the “Community Engagement Award”, for ‘Snaketastic’ a community event held over 2-months in the Park focused on education, social science and communication initiatives to drive behaviour change around reptiles, particularly snakes.
Upon receiving the official news and awards, Port Moresby Nature Park’s Curator, Brett Smith said, “Winning the awards meant a lot for Port Moresby Nature Park and Papua New Guinea as a whole as he wholeheartedly thanks the staff for their efforts in achieving this success”.
In receiving the Community Engagement Award, Mr. Smith said, “Thousands of people die annually from Snake Bites here in PNG. It is through community engagement programs such as the ‘Snaketastic’ Program that helps enable people to understand how to prevent themselves from snakebites, and appreciate snakes’ important role in the ecosystem, and begin to realise that snakes really are Snaketastic!”
The Zoo and Aquarium Association Awards are a celebration and acknowledgement of achieved extraordinary success resulting from the dedication and valuable work of our member zoos and aquariums and their positive impact on conservation and animal welfare.
ZAA is the premier Industry Association representing the top 100 accredited zoos and aquariums across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The Nature Park is PNG’s and the South Pacific’s only member having passed all entry requirements in 2018. This included undertaking what
is globally considered, the most stringent assessment of animal welfare knowledge, care and management which included a full onsite Audit as well as review of the organisation’s policies and procedures relating to animal welfare, management and business operations.
This is not the first time that the Nature Park became a winner in the bi-annual ZAA Awards with the Park winning two previous awards. In 2016, the Nature Park won the ‘Innovation Award’ for its efforts in establishing what is believed to be one of the first globally established ‘sister-zoo partnerships’ between a developing and developed country zoo with the Park partnering with Zoos Victoria, arguably one of the best zoos in Australia comprising of three sites Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary. Since this partnership began, over 60 staff exchanges have taken place across all areas of the Park’s operations to strengthen the Park’s staff understanding of managing a conservation-focused organisation and to strengthen Zoo Victoria’s knowledge in frontline community engagement and conservation efforts.
The Park’s second ZAA Award in 2018 was the ‘Education Award’ for the Park’s Programs “Wildlife and Me” which aims to prompt the campaigns of ‘City people don’t need bush meat’, ‘Don’t buy native animals as pets’ and ‘Lukautim bilus bilong yu’.
Unfortunately the scheduled 2020 ZAA Awards had to be postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 so it has been a longer wait for Port Moresby Nature Park to find out if they are still up there with the best of the best zoos and aquariums in the region, which it has done so again!
Port Moresby Nature Park is a registered charity established by the NCDC who continue to be the Park’s largest funder along with Major Partners ExxonMobil, UNDP, Sir Brian Bell Foundation, The National, Newcrest Mining and Ela Motors. Over 52 other organisations provide funding or in-kind
support to the Park and the remaining funds required are self-generated through visitation and spend at the Park.
The Park has been significantly affected by the impacts of COVID-19 which last year, almost resulted in its indefinite closure due to a dramatic drop in visitation and the Park’s inability to self-generate income.
Fortunately, through the increased support of the NCDC and a global GoFundMe campaign, along with additional business support, the Nature Park has been able to continue its operations.
The Park’s vision is to inspire in others the guardianship of PNG’s unique biodiversity.