Wellington Zoo says new rules for keeping exotic animals will make it almost impossible to set up a wildlife facility such as Zion in Northland or Franklin Zoo.
New Zealand's four big zoos asked the Environmental Protection Authority to update its rules after they were forced to help relocate animals when Franklin Zoo near Auckland closed in 2012.
Wellington Zoo's general manager of operations Mauritz Basson said on Thursday that zoos throughout the region helped re-home more than 430 exotic animals when vet Helen Schofield was crushed to death by an elephant.
Mr Basson said it was expensive and unfair that already cash-strapped zoos had to foot the bill.
The new rules come into effect in August 2014. The handful of private zoos in New Zealand must be able to show that they have suitable facilities, sufficient staff training and enough money to do the job properly.