Christchurch's Orana Wildlife Park launches animal livestreams

With a click of the mouse you can now get up close to some of Orana Wildlife Parks animals.
The Christchurch zoo launched the first of three livestreams of its enclosures last month, becoming the only zoo in New Zealand to live broadcast its animals over the internet.

Its web feed breaks new ground by including an interactive feature that allows viewers to control the camera to follow meerkats, rhinos and spider monkeys around their enclosures.

As well as exploring interactive habitats, viewers could also join Q&As with animal experts all from the comfort of their homes.

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Marketing manager Nathan Hawke said staff were excited to be the first in New Zealand and the only zoo in this part of the world to try the technology.

We have dabbled in the digital space and found that it is something that really works for us.

Oranas virtual expansion followed last year's tough level 4 lockdown, when it was unable to open to the public. It launched a Givealittle page to keep the park running and raised about $360,000.

A screenshot of live footage from the Orana meerkats Twitch stream.

The park's newly-launched live stream has potential to provide some revenue too.

While viewers can follow the stream for free on the livestreaming platform Twitch, they can also choose to support the park by subscribing to the broadcast.

The stream was made possible through a partnership with Toronto-based interactive camera company BriziCam, which approached Orana Wildlife Park with the idea for an online virtual zoo experience as part of its ZooLife programme.

Pigs and cheetahs were treated to ice blocks at Orana Wildlife Park as temperatures soared into the 30s on January 27, 2021.

BriziCams head of partnership, Lauran Attwell, said its aim was to build an immersive online zoo experience in partnership with zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks globally.

Hawke said the Christchurch park saw it as an opportunity to take its work and conservation messages to the world.

For now, it was working with BriziCam on a pilot trial, but was already planning to expand its broadcasts.

Maddisyn Jeffares/Stuff
Orana Wildlife Park marketing manager Nathan Hawke says the zoo is pleased to be involved in the livestreaming scheme.

Staff were working on installing interactive cameras in the parks kiwi breeding unit, so it could broadcast its kiwi conservation work to national and international viewers.

We like to invest in cool stuff Hawke said.

The park is using three BriziCam-funded cameras, set up in its meerkat, rhino and spider monkey enclosures.

The cameras streamed live on Twitch, and the broadcasts would eventually move to the website, joining videos from Toronto Zoo and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.


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