TODAY |

Cantabrians have chance to see rare orangutans staying in the south while Auckland Zoo gets a makeover

Anticipation is running high at Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch as staff await the arrival of three Bornean Orangutans from Auckland.

The animals are being relocated to Orana Wildlife Park. Source: 1 NEWS

Male Charlie and his female house mates, Wanita and Melur will fly south on Thursday morning to spend two years at the nature park in Christchurch, while their enclosure at Auckland Zoo gets a $50 million dollar makeover.

The trio are New Zealand's only orangutans and are expected to draw a large crowd of southern visitors keen to get a look at the park's new additions.

Auckland Zoo's Primate Team Leader, Amy Robbins has been working with the animals for over a year to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

"They're going to cope very well because they are very intelligent animals. They're very adaptable and are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for."

As part of the training, Amy has taught the animals to present different parts of their body to their keepers.

This will enable the keepers to hand inject the animals with a general anaesthetic so they can moved into their crates before flying south.

The South East Asian themed upgrade will take up a fifth of Auckland Zoo's land.

It's expected to take just over two years to complete and will house a number of tropical species including the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger and the Asian Short Clawed Otter.

Construction on the new development will start before the end of the year.