Innovative Capital Development Projects of 2023
In 2023, members completed a number of projects including enclosure capital developments, land rehabilitation, and sustainability enhancements via a mix of innovative approaches to conservation, sustainability and visitor engagement.
- Healesville Sanctuary completed five major constructions
2023 had been busy for Healesville Sanctuary on the capital development front, with five major projects built to completion and commissioning.
They built two new facilities to house the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum and three threatened frog species. The possum facility provides the capacity to hold salvaged animals if the habitat of any population fails (e.g., bushfire or no Bogong Moths). The Threatened Frog facility now houses Giant Burrowing Frogs and will eventually house Spotted Tree Frogs, among others. Both are designed to hold animals across generations and breed for release.
Healesville Sanctuary also built a Threatened Species Quarantine facility, which will greatly assist the movement of threatened species into and out of the Fighting Extinction program. It has already supported numbers of Orange-bellied Parrots bred at the Sanctuary that are to be released into the wild. Like the frog and possum facilities, this large building will improve the welfare of endangered species, along with the Sanctuary’s quarantine capabilities and standards.
Threatened Species Quarantine Facility
The new Raptor Rehabilitation Facility (RRF, nicknamed the Flight Stimulator) has just been completed and officially opened after four years of design, collaboration, building, and commissioning. This facility will allow rescued raptors and other large birds to get fit enough to stand a fighting chance when they are released back into the wild. The RRF will benefit the welfare of injured birds and bring awareness to the Sanctuary’s community and beyond.
Raptor Rehabilitation Facility
Lastly, the Sanctuary constructed the new Australian Wildlife Health Centre Visitor Gallery, which was opened to the public in August. The updated interpretations and information within the gallery have given the building a new lease on life. Visitors love the engaging activities, which include creating their own path to decide the fate of an injured animal.
Australian Wildlife Health Centre Visitor Gallery
- Enhancing Orana Wildlife Park’s 185ha of land as a key biodiversity hotspot in Canterbury
Orana Wildlife Park is a key New Zealand Zoo that doubles as a native species habitat. A new conservation project is underway, with support from Jobs for Nature, to ensure 185 hectares of Orana’s land is further enhanced as a biodiversity hotspot and a critical habitat for some of Canterbury’s most threatened species (e.g., boulder copper butterfly). The goal is to restore key dryland and riparian habitats.
They are establishing an 8.45-hectare native forest with over 14,000 eco-sourced stems planted to date and 36,000 stems to be planted in total. An extensive site-wide control program for mammalian predators has resulted in incredible success, especially for possums and feral cats. Orana also has weed control underway, focusing on eradicating wild pines, willow, gorse, and broom. With this project, they are creating something for future generations and taking the Park’s conservation efforts to a new level.
Orana Wildlife Park
- Territory Wildlife Park leads the way to a cleaner energy future
The Territory Wildlife Park is charging ahead with energy savings measures following a site-wide energy audit conducted in February 2023. One major recommendation was the rollout of rooftop solar arrays, which have significantly reduced the Park’s reliance on the local power grid. A 70-kilowatt solar array with 140kWh of battery storage has reduced the Park workshop’s demand on the power grid by 68%. A 100-kilowatt solar array has reduced the Visitor Centre’s demand by 65%. Plans are underway for a third solar array, which aims to reduce the Aquarium’s demand on the grid by 60%.
Solar Panel Array at Territory Wildlife Park
The Park has also introduced an electric vehicle (EV) to their fleet, with an EV charging station. Anticipation is building for the arrival of two electric people movers which will replace the Park’s current diesel ‘trains’! This will complement plenty of behind-the-scenes work, replacing lights with high-efficiency LEDs, pump upgrades to improve the efficiency of reticulation systems, upgrades to energy-efficient controllers for key climate control units, and mapping the Park’s electrical network and power supply hubs.
EV and Charging Station
- Another enclosure added for geriatric and differently abled koalas at Yanchep National Park
Yanchep National Park has had a colony of Southern Koalas since 1938; over the years, the enclosure spaces have changed significantly and, since the early 2000s, have taken their current format and styling.
Until early last year, Yanchep’s habitat enclosure comprised three main spaces with habitat and feed trees, as well as a standalone separate quarantine space with shelter. And an indoor recovery room, also called KRC – Koala Recovery Room.
[Left to Right]: Quarantine Space, Koala Recovery Room
To add to these spaces early last year, they identified the need for another space for any geriatric koalas or koalas of different abilities. The Park’s three viewing enclosures culminate to approximately 1 acre of space, where they could accommodate and modify the new enclosure by adding a partition to view compound 3, giving them a total of 4 viewing compounds.
New Koala Enclosure
- Taronga Zoo’s Nura Diya opens to the public
Positioned at the top of the zoo, Taronga Zoo Sydney opened a brand-new immersive habitat – Nura Diya Australia, on 6 April 2023. Located on beautiful Cammeraigal Country, Nura Diya Australia, which translates to ‘this Country’ in the Sydney First Language, provides guests the opportunity to immerse themselves amongst native Australian flora and fauna and gain a deeper understanding of the relationship Aboriginal Culture has with Country. Guests who choose to explore Nura Diya Australia can stroll amongst kangaroos, dingoes, wallabies, and koalas.
In late September 2023, Taronga Zoo Sydney completed the final habitat as part of Nura Diya Australia, a place where day becomes night known as nguwing nura - Nocturnal Country. Nguwing nura is home to an array of rare and night-loving wildlife including the Greater Bilby, Yellow-bellied Glider, Chuditch (Western Quoll) and more. Spanning 100 meters, nguwing nura is an immersive experience where guests are taken on a journey to discover Australian wildlife usually only seen after dark.
Nura Diya, Taronga Zoo