ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums bake for conservation


Inspired by the Threatened Species Commissioner's bake-off, ZAA ran our own competition for the many passionate conservationists working in ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums across Australia, New Zealand and PNG. The results were so impressive we had to share them with you!

Check out the winning cake and some very honourable mentions for the ZAA Threatened Species Bake Off 2019.



The winning cake: National Zoo and Aquarium Canberra - Tasmanian devils

Ty Culbert, Wildlife Keeper and Senior Education Guide at National Zoo and Aquarium submitted the winning cake, depicting Tasmanian devils as their threatened species of focus.

The National Zoo & Aquarium focused on the plight of Tasmanian devils during National Threatened Species Day and all money raised will go towards the Save The Tasmanian Devil Program. To celebrate the winning cake, ZAA will donate $500 to Save the Tasmanian Devil Program on behalf of the National Zoo and Aquarium.

The National Zoo & Aquarium is part of the ZAA regional breeding program. However, they play a slightly different role providing a home for devils that may not be actively breeding or are older and educating visitors on what they can do to assist with their survival in the wild.

The zoo also gives generously to devil conservation with partners like Save The Tasmanian Devil Program and Aussie Ark.



A very close second: Auckland Zoo - Kākāpō

Right behind the Tassie devil cake in the vote was this incredible creation by Shannon Quinn, Zookeeper at Auckland Zoo depicting a kākāpō.

Kākāpō are one of the most endangered birds in the world, at present they only survive on predator-free islands. Working alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC), Auckland Zoo is directly involved in the conservation of kākāpō, providing veterinary support, changing transmitters, and minding the nests. During a breeding season their veterinary staff go out to the islands for weeks at a time to ensure the new chicks get the best chance at life.

This year has seen a particularly large input; for the past few months zoo veterinarians have been working overtime to save the critically endangered New Zealand parrot from the fungal infection aspergillosis. At the height of the crisis, 19 kākāpō (adults and chicks) ended up at Auckland Zoo’s Vet Hospital where they required strict quarantine and around-the-clock assessment, care and monitoring.


Honourable mentions



National Zoo and Aquarium of New Zealand - brown kiwi

Astrid Taylor, Cook at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, submitted this brown kiwi masterpiece. National Aquarium of New Zealand proudly supports the ZAA captive breeding programme for Brown kiwi.  Their kiwi are the focus of a number of educational offerings, from the CSI Great Kiwi Egg Hunt, to bespoke Kiwi Senses sessions and an on-gallery kiwi touch table.

They are fundraising to support the conservation efforts of local Cape Sanctuary, a 2,500 ha restoration site bordered by a 10.6 km predator-proof fence on the Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui Peninsula.

The site has seen the establishment of a population of more than 100 North Island brown kiwi. Each year since 2011, 30 to 40 kiwi chicks are crèched at the sanctuary for Operation Nest Egg.



Monarto Safari Park - western swamp tortoise

Zookeeper at Monarto Safari Park, Tess Stevens, sent in this cool western swamp tortoise cake. The western swamp tortoise is Australia's most endangered reptile.

It is a short necked, freshwater turtle. Once believed to be extinct, a schoolboy spotted one on a Western Australian road in 1953, kick-starting the conservation effort for this amazing reptile.

Monarto Safari Park are proud to be one of only two zoos in the world breeding this rare species. In collaboration with Perth Zoo, Monarto Safari Park are breeding the western swamp tortoise for release into the wild.



Zoos Victoria - mountain pygmy-possum

Zoos Victoria CEO, Jenny Gray submitted this cake depicting hungry mountain pygmy-possums waiting for bogong moths to arrive. Zoos Victoria launched Moth Tracker, the latest device being employed to help brighten the future of the adorable, but critically endangered, mountain pygmy-possum.

The easy-to-use platform allows everyday Australians to photograph and log any potential sightings of migrating bogong moths, which are the possums’ main food source this spring.

This year’s migration of bogong moths to the possums’ alpine home is crucial after hardly any moths appeared during the past two years, dramatically affecting breeding among the last remaining 2,000 possums. More information is available on the website



Auckland Zoo - lesser short-tailed bat and dactylanthus taylorii

Devon Nicholls, Zookeeper at Auckland Zoo, submitted this awesome cake depicting the lesser short-tailed bat (mystacina tuberculata) – pekapeka-tou-poto in Māori, which is endemic to New Zealand.

Dactylanthus taylorii, commonly known as wood rose, is a fully parasitic flowering plant, the only one endemic to New Zealand. The host tree responds to the presence of Dactylanthus by forming a burl-like structure that resembles a fluted wooden rose (hence the common name). When the flowers emerge on the forest floor, they are pollinated by the lesser short tailed bat.

Auckland Zoo supports these species by educating the public through keeper talks and signage which helps to bring awareness to the threats currently facing them. Dactylanthus is also currently being grown in one of our aviaries by Auckland Zoo’s Horticulture Team.