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Case Study: Wellington Zoo

This case study shows how working through this Value Chain Guide can help an organisation identify business opportunities as well as some of the risks which could have a serious impact on the organisation.

Wellington Zoo is committed to minimising its environmental impact – conservation underpins everything it does. Over the past seven years it has worked tirelessly to reduce waste, water consumption, and power and in 2013 it became the first carboNZero certified zoo in the world.

Using the Value Chain Guide

The Zoo team wanted to focus its value chain mapping exercise on one part of its work – animal food. It wanted to understand more about this important part of its operation and to identify any risks along the value chain.

First, the team looked at the entire mapping process. Having this overview helped it to understand the importance of completing each of the steps in the Value Chain Guide – and not leaping ahead. The Zoo worked with facilitators from the Sustainable Business Council (SBC) who outlined the process and the purpose and answered questions about the exercise.

The team identified two types of animal feed in particular – MAZURI and Lucerne. They were chosen after a process of ranking feed type by total spend, cost per unit, volume and importance of the feed types – for example, whether they could be substituted for other feeds.

For each, the team mapped out a value chain. MAZURI, along with fruit and vegetables, is the primary feed used for primates at the Zoo. It is sourced from a United States supplier and shipped, once a year, to the Zoo. After being fed to primates, the waste product (poo) is used to produce compost onsite, which is used for gardening.

Lucerne is sourced from a local farmer who grows the grass, processes it into bales and adds the nutrients. A third-party company collects the waste product (along with waste straw and hay) and mixes it in with other organic waste to produce compost, which is then on-sold. An example of some of the risks and opportunities the Zoo team identified are shown in the table below.

Risks Opportunities

Small number of suppliers

Unclear about how suppliers ensure quality

High reliance on suppliers for information about animal nutrition

Potential for logistical issues with ordering and transport

Potential to explore collaboration with Australian and New Zealand zoos – potentially cheaper transport

Liaise with zoo nutritionists on primate nutrition

Gather information from suppliers about quality control and environmental and social management systems

Take more direct control of transport logistics – explore use of shipping agents, increasing or decreasing ordering frequency and storage.


Informal relationship with suppliers

Few known suppliers of the type and size of Lucerne that is needed

Unclear about aspects of the product, including quality assurance processes and supply contingency plans

No control/involvement in the processing of some waste product

Waste company uses 'Zoo' name in its branding

Formalising agreements with the suppliers

Developing a better understanding of the risks with raw materials and processing

Minimise risks / develop contingency plans through active management with the suppliers (for example, through site visits)

Consider partnerships with third-party company producing compost

Explore how to gain more control over compost


"For both feeds the process was extremely useful in helping us understand our value chains better," said Karen Fifield, Chief Executive of Wellington Zoo Trust. "It made us realise the risks and opportunities that we hadn't considered before. For both products we did not appreciate how dependent we were on one part of the value chain system running smoothly."

Having a facilitator from SBC worked well for the Zoo team. The facilitator helped push them to challenge assumptions and made sure the team didn't follow 'worm holes' (a certain train of thought) as discussions developed. The team were able to move cleanly to the next stage of the process after each one was complete.

"In the beginning, understanding and improving our value chain seemed like a very large task, but now that we have the steps and tools provided in the Value Chain Guide we feel confident about looking at our value chain for all other animal foods as well," Ms Fifield said.

Wellington Zoo has now identified specific tasks to improve its value chain and is putting those into action. It has already saved $40,000pa through improvements within the animal feed value chain and feels more confident in its supply and its communication to stakeholders.

The diagrams below show some of the information identified at each stage of the value chain for the two feed types.

Example 1. The Wellington Zoo's working value chain map for Lucerne Baleage

Figure 1

Example 2. The Wellington Zoo's working value chain map for MAZURI

Figure 2