Wildlife institutions will get a boost from a new support package of $14.89 million as a result of the loss of revenue from Covid-19.
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said the funding would mitigate the closure of vital protection facilities.
"The impacts of the Covid-19 response have severely reduced wildlife institutions' revenue from visitor admissions and philanthropic donations. The continued closure of New Zealand's borders means revenue is likely to remain low for the 2020/21 financial year".
Sage said the institutions played a critical role in recovering endangered species in New Zealand.
"Eco-sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and wildlife rescue, hospital and rehabilitation facilities provide crucial support for the recovery of Aotearoa New Zealand's indigenous and threatened species," Sage said.
Sage said the funding would help with conservation efforts to save at-risk kiwi.
"Captive-based conservation efforts such as Operation Nest Egg for rare kiwi such as rowi, and captive breeding for kākāriki, orange-fronted parakeet, shore plover, Chesterfield and cobble skink recovery programmes are critical for the recovery of threatened species".
The Government's decision was welcomed by Sanctuaries of New Zealand (SONZI).
SONZI chair and open sanctuaries senior ranger Matt Maitland said "these sanctuaries cannot press pause and resume when economic conditions improve. If they do, valued wildlife will be lost, in some cases becoming locally extinct".
Sage said rehoming the wildlife would be an expensive option and would put the welfare of the species at risk.
"The protection and welfare of threatened species is at risk if these facilities close. Rehoming wildlife is not a sound option as the costs would be very high and this would require significant investment and intervention from DoC and the Ministry for Primary Industries".
Zoo and Aquarium Association executive director Nicole Craddock said many of the animals had specific requirements for their care that were expensive.
"Twelve kiwi cost around $20,000 a year to feed, routine veterinary costs for a zoo can reach over $50,000 a year, and keeping species in temperature-controlled environments for their welfare can mount up to around $200,000 in electricity bills," Craddock said.
Craddock said the funding would provide a jump-start for New Zealand's recovery.
"This new support package will help to see zoos and aquariums through to play their part in New Zealand's recovery."
Sage said wildlife institutions would need to apply for the funding through the Department of Conservation.
"Severely impacted wildlife institutions will receive funding within the next few weeks, allowing facilities to continue operating".
Sage said funding requests would be decided by August.
The funding for the support package comes from the 2020 Budget.