It’s December, a time to reflect on the year that was and consider everything achieved, challenges overcome and progression made. Zoos and aquariums across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have spent the last 12 months working tirelessly on saving threatened species, continuously improving animal welfare, breaking new ground in science, hitting sustainability targets, engaging the community around conservation and much more.
To give you a just a taste of all they do, here are some of the highlights in conservation science and research at Australasian zoos and aquariums this year:
Investing in science and sustainability
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary opened the Brisbane Koala Science Institute, which will focus on genetic and environmental threats to koalas. Current projects include scoping disease management options for Chlamydia and KoRV, and exploring the use of drone and artificial intelligence technologies for cost-effective population and habitat monitoring. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary’s new ‘Koala BioBank’ is a 1500-litre capacity, ultra-low temperature, collaborative repository dedicated exclusively to the long-term archival storage of koala tissue samples.
Snakes Downunder Reptile Park & Zoo focused on sustainability this year, which included a complete conversion to solar power and switching to compostable food packaging and cutlery. They also opened a new meercat enclosure, welcoming a new species to the zoo.
The Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, visited Taronga Zoo on the 16th of October to cut the ribbon at the official launch of the brand-new world class Taronga Institute of Science & Learning, a purpose-built research and education centre on site at Taronga Zoo Sydney and the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. This state-of-the-art facility houses the largest conservation science team of any zoo in the southern hemisphere.
Wellington Zoo continues to be a world leader for progressive zoos and aquariums in sustainability after winning the inaugural World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Environmental Sustainability Award at the 73rd Annual WAZA Conference. The Zoo also hosted the ZAA Conference in Wellington this year with delegates from local and international zoos, aquariums, government departments, councils, universities, and conservation NGOs. The event was a great opportunity for other like-minded individuals and organisations to come together to showcase their work in the environmental and conservation space and develop partnerships for future collaboration.