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POM Nature Park among finalists of Zoo ‘Oscars’

Port Moresby Nature Park is among the finalists across three award categories in the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australasia’s (ZAA) bi-annual Gala Awards event.

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.

The Park is a finalist in 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 in the “Exhibit Design – Large Scale Development” for ‘Plumes of Paradise’, the Park’s eight-aviary bird of paradise precinct complete with a educational area. 

And in 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.

“I am exceptionally proud of the team and Park on the announcement as this event is our equivalent of the zoo ‘Oscars’ so to be recognised up with some of Australia and New Zealand’s biggest zoos is a true testament to the impact and professionalism that the Nature Park exhibits,” says POMNP CEO Michelle McGeorge.

The next phase in the Award judging process is for the Park to participate in three separate formal online presentations before a strict judging panel before the winners of each category will be selected and announced at a formal Award dinner ceremony that will take place at Taronga Zoo, Sydney early August.

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 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 organisations policies and procedures relating to animal welfare, management and business operations.

This is not the first time that the Nature Park has been nominated in the bi-annual ZAA Awards with the Park actually winning two awards in the Park.  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’s understanding of managing a conservation-focused organisation and to strengthen Zoo Victoria’s knowledge in front-line 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 see if they are still up there with the best of the best zoos and aquariums in the region.

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 ability 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 Parks vision is to inspire in others the guardianship of PNG’s unique biodiversity.

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