Power chair donated to Hamilton Zoo

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Life Unlimited General Manager Enterprise William Hughes and Life Unlimited Store manager Tash Kerrison take the zoo’s modified Neo power chair for a test drive

A collaboration led by Friends of Hamilton Zoo has made an electric wheelchair available to mobility-impaired visitors to the popular city zoo.

Costing $5000 and funded through a community grant from the Lion Foundation, the wheelchair is available for hire as of today (13 October). It has been supplied by health and disability support organisation Life Unlimited and can be controlled by the user’s carer.

“We are always looking for ways to make our zoo more accessible,” says Hamilton Zoo Visitor Experience Manager Dave Smart.

“We have three mobility scooters for hire and adding the power chair to the fleet means the zoo can become a much more enjoyable experience for those who aren’t comfortable with the mobility scooters, or aren’t able to drive themselves.”

Life Unlimited General Manager Enterprise William Hughes is thrilled to have worked closely with Friends of the Zoo to provide the power chair so those who have mobility issues can enjoy the zoo experience.

“The chair is one of the Neo mobility scooter and power chair range.  Life Unlimited Stores recently secured the exclusive New Zealand license for the Neos for our four North Island stores and have another shipment arriving at the Port of Tauranga this weekend.”

The power chair was modified for specific use at the zoo, says Mr Hughes.

“Working closely with the Friends of the Zoo, we’ve moved the control arm so the carer is able to guide a person around the zoo’s undulating terrain.”

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Hamilton Zoo Visitor Experience Manager Dave Smart with Life Unlimited Store manager Tash Kerrison

“We’re extremely grateful and it’s ready to go,” Mr Smart says. “To book the wheelchair, or any of our scooters, all a person needs to do is phone us a couple of days before to check availability.”

The power chair is the latest in a series of contributions the Friends of Hamilton Zoo has made. The group also recently purchased new drinking fountains for the zoo which will be installed before summer, adding to a number of other projects the group has funded around the zoo since it formation in 1983, including:

  • Rhino “Boma” encounter house and paving
  • Motion activated cameras
  • Parrot Court aviary upgrades
  • Zoo animal ID signs
  • Picnic tables
  • X-ray equipment for zoo vets
  • Contribution towards a memorial for Samantha Kudeweh

For more details about the Friends of Hamilton Zoo, visit hamiltonzoo.co.nz