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 progressive animal welfare at Australasian zoos and aquariums this year:
Progressing animal welfare
Dolphin Marine Magic had some welfare training milestones with Australian sea lion, Storm and rescued New Zealand fur seal, Scotti. They learned behaviours to help them calmly participate in veterinary procedures and daily care, which is important for not only their health, but also their welfare. Both learned to take walks around the park under trainer supervision, allowing them to exercise a high degree of agency and to explore the sights and smells of the park’s garden. They were introduced to the park’s dolphin pod in a unique enrichment program, which gives the dolphins and sea lions free time to interact naturally.
Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown were the first in New Zealand to be accredited under Accreditation 2020, the newest iteration of ZAA’s progressive program for animal welfare at zoos and aquariums. Receiving the official recognition of their focus on positive welfare underpinned their core purpose of conserving native New Zealand species through their wildlife rehab and breed-for-release programmes.
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve began their significant exotics section upgrade; the oldest section of Willowbank. The first renewal was the small-clawed otter enclosure, with a cascading waterfall providing a lot of opportunity for natural foraging behaviour by our otters. They also saw the addition of a new reptile nursery; currently home to juvenile Leopard tortoises and juvenile Star tortoises both of which are thriving.