As 2017 comes to a close, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the collective achievements, our membership has accomplished this year. The list below highlights some of the sustainability, conservation, exhibit, training and commercial achievements our members have accomplished in 2017.
- Winning the Premier’s Sustainability Award for Environmental Protection for its Orange-bellied parrot program.
Secret Creek Sanctuary
- NSW Blue star Awards 1st place for Environmental Sustainability.
- Runner up in the NZ Top Shop Award for Innovation – for sustainable retail.
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
- In 2017 the first translocation of Tasmanian devils, solely from Maria island was successfully completed. The lack of road kill of these released wild born devils supports the findings from previous studies that captive born devils are more vulnerable to road strike. This was also the first trial of moving female devils with pouch young and it proved successful as well with all the devils settling into the local area. Tracking with GPS collars showed that they found maternity dens. The devil population on Maria island will be managed with another translocation off the island in 2018, numbers and timing are pending the results of the next population survey on the island.
- Immunised devils at Stony Head were checked nearly a year post release and they still showed an enhanced immune response. The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) is assisting the Menzies Medical Research Institute with funding opportunities for this work in 2018.
- The Tasmanian Devil Ambassador program (TDAP) is progressing as planned but does exert pressure on the captive population. In 2018 the breeding recommendations will be structured to include the provision of devils to TDAP and for Maria Island to continue to enhance genetic diversity.
- The STDP team is undertaking a major field trip in the remote south-west of Tasmania to search for genetic diversity not present in the captive founder population. This data will be used in 2018 to plan for further management of Tasmanian devil genetic diversity, both in the metapopulation and the wild.
- A review of the last ten years of annual monitoring data of the wild devil population was completed in 2017. This showed continued decline but persistence at around 20% of the original population. The review also showed that the monitoring methods, live capture, spotlight surveys and surveillance cameras were effective in detecting change across Tasmania. In 2018 these methods will be reviewed to assist with structuring the next five years of the program. The challenge is to have methodology robust enough to detect changes brought about by stochastic events which will cause local extinctions and reduced genetic diversity.
- Funding support from the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation through 21st Century Tiger to the KERINCI SEBLAT SUMATRAN TIGER PROTECTION & CONSERVATION PROJECT has seen active threats to tigers being dramatically reduced, with only seven active snares recorded on patrols, compared to 32 recorded in the same six month period in 2016 – a 78% reduction!
- Further funding support from the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation in collaboration with the University of Queensland to a pilot project, THE LIVING KOALA GENE BANK, commenced in 2017 enabled koalas that originally presented from sub-optimum wild sites to be actively engaged in proactive management practices that optimise health and genetic contribution to both wild koalas and those in our care.
Manly SEALIFE Sanctuary
- Successful breeding of Pyjama Squid.
- Successfully rehabilitating a White Shark.
Orana Wildlife Park
Whio (NZ blue duck) breeding – A new South Island whio pair was transferred to Orana in April. To our delight, 14 ducklings have hatched (in 3 clutches) in their first breeding season – this is thought to be the first time South Island whio have bred in captivity. Our dedicated staff invest significant time in preparing these animals for success in the wild – eggs are artificially incubated and staff hone the ducklings’ hunting skills before the animals move to a hardening facility. All ducklings will be released to the wild (South Island) – it is very exciting for our team to be involved in more local conservation work. Previously, Orana has bred over 50 North Island whio for release to the wild (North Island).
Otorohanga Kiwi House
- The Brown Kiwi Captive Breeding Program was able to release twelve adult brown kiwi of western provenance to a predator-controlled site on the eastern side of Mt Taranaki. This release represents a huge investment from the 15+ organisations involved in the program, the majority of which are ZAA members. The release of these birds to this
site managed by the Taranaki Kiwi Trust has introduced valuable adult breeding birds to the mountain to supplement the surviving kiwi population on the mountain and younger birds released through Operation Nest Egg programs. The Taranaki Kiwi Trust is tracking these captive-bred adults using radio transmitters to help better understand patterns of kiwi dispersal on Mt Taranaki. Many of the adult males released will also be tracked as part of Operation Nest Egg programs. The birds were released on three different dates with up to 120 volunteers, locals and iwi attending on each of the release days in May, September and November. This provided for excellent advocacy opportunities and promotion of the captive breeding program. The captive breeding program has also released other brown kiwi this season to sites on the eastern side of the north island.
- One of the best achievements of 2017 is breeding 16 Brown Teal for release to the wild to date this season.
- Releasing the 4,000th animal born or reared at Perth Zoo into the wild. This includes establishing new populations of Numbats in the wild, releasing more than 700 of Australia’s rarest reptile, the Western Swamp Tortoise, and helping the Chuditch have its threat status downgraded from Endangered to Near Threatened.
Pukaha Mount Bruce
When Pukaha Mount Bruce opened our free-flight aviary in May 2016, one of the key species included was the whio/Blue Duck. Within a few short months the breeding pair had laid their first clutch. Due to a history of whio being fickle parents and the need to double-clutch the pair, this clutch of eggs was removed after three weeks to complete the incubation and rearing of the ducklings by hand. Given the experience of our husbandry staff and the suitability of the new enclosure, Pukaha trialled allowing the second clutch to be left with the parents. The pair successfully hatched and reared all five ducklings from their second clutch, and this is a great tribute to the new aviary as a suitable breeding enclosure (and of course was a delight to any visitors who got to see them). All whio ducklings from the new aviary were transferred to ‘Turangi pre-release aviary’ (a boot camp for whio) earlier this year prior to them being transferred to release sites around the North Island.
SEALIFE Melbourne Aquarium
- Participation in the recovery team for the critically endangered Spotted Handfish culminating in the relocation of ambassador fish from Tasmania to SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium following extensive media coverage of the plight of this amazing fish.
Secret Creek Sanctuary
- Trevor Evans and Secret Creek Sanctuary for their breeding program of 17 years for the Eastern Quoll and other local endangered species.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
- Two Southern Black Rhinoceros calves were born at TWPZ in 2017. This success comes on the back of concerted efforts in veterinary and husbandry management to promote health, fecundity and breeding success. The IRF-led Southern Black Rhino Sustainability Program (SBRSP) has 14 holding participants in three different countries, and takes advantage of the strength of current partners, the IRF’s ongoing commitment to in situ conservation of the Southern Black Rhino, and research and technical expertise we are able to bring to bear to develop a new management paradigm. Fourteen calves have been born at TWPZ in the last 12 years, and the zoo has produced 80% of all calves born in the last five years within the global breeding program for the species.
- Recovery of the Regent Honeyeater. Taronga continued its twenty-plus year involvement in the recovery of the Regent Honeyeater, a flagship species for woodland biodiversity that is bred at a few zoos in our region and released to the wild every second year. This year was one of Taronga Zoo’s best breeding seasons ever and, in April 2017, we celebrated the release of 101 zoo-bred birds into the box iron-bark forests of Chiltern Mt Pilot National Park in Victoria. Indicators of success remain positive for the recovery efforts and Taronga’s legacy commitment to this species.
- Wild Ideas Conservation Symposium- Wellington Zoo’s global and local conservation partners all attended our week long symposium in Wellington.
Werribee Open Range Zoo
- Plains Wanderers added to our list of ‘Fighting Extinction’ species and purpose-built facility established.
Visitor experience improvements – includes phase one of replacing mesh panels to allow our visitors even closer and easier viewing of the Brooklands Zoo squirrel monkeys; meerkats; cotton-top tamarins and otters as well as the new conservation based advocacy partnership that’s been established with Toyota Kiwi Guardians and Department of Conservation, and expansion of educational initiatives and with the new Little Blue Penguin nest box/habitat display.
- Tiger Trek – Taronga Zoo’s new exhibit is an innovative experience for Taronga’s guests. ‘Raise Your Palm’, Taronga’s new community conservation campaign on sustainable palm oil, features in the simulated airplane and supermarket experiences where guests can learn about palm oil use in products and email manufacturers and retailers to reward those using certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), or encourage and support those yet to transition in a positive and collaborative way. So far, over 20,000 emails have been sent to companies that represent some of Australia’s favourite brands.
Werribee Open Range Zoo
- New Master Plan completed that will double the capacity of the Zoo.
- The major exhibit upgrade in 2017 was the pool expansion and welfare improvements to the Saltwater Crocodile exhibit. This development also included a new viewing experience by including an acrylic cylinder that allows guests to pop-up and view ‘Rocky’ from within the exhibit.
- The Kangaroo walkthrough underwent exhibit renovations. A simple change in the walkway location by creating a new entry point allows much greater opportunities for guests and kangaroos to interact compared with the previous design.
- In November, Monarto Zoo was roaring with excitement to launch Lions 360, the next project in our 20-year masterplan which allows our visitors to enter a tunnel and emerge within clawing range of one of Australia’s largest lion prides. This project is the first of its kind in Australia, reversing the traditional zoo experience and effectively putting our visitors in a cage, with the lions roaming their ten hectare enclosure. We are thrilled to have brought this unique experience to life in just seven months, working with a number of government partners to deliver this project ahead of time.
- Animal Training – the amount of training now being achieved across the entire zoo collection; making it part of keepers’ routines which includes scale training the alpacas, pigs, meerkats, capuchin, squirrel monkeys, cotton-top tamarins and brolga, target training the capuchins, pigs, alpaca and chickens, and crate training the meerkats and squirrel monkeys.
- Developing staff capable of running Peel Zoo in our absence.
Orana Wildlife Park and Auckland Zoo
- Orang-utan transfer – Orana and Auckland Zoo collaborated over the past year carefully planning for the smooth transfer of three orang-utans to Christchurch. The animals will have a two-year stay whilst Auckland completes a new habitat – this is a great example of fantastic collaboration amongst zoos. Orana is privileged to hold New Zealand’s only gorillas … and now the country’s only orang-utans.
- Buying the abandoned Warrawong Sanctuary in South Australia.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
- For the fourth year running, Taronga Western Plains Zoo was awarded Gold in the ‘Unique Accommodation’ category at this year’s NSW Tourism Awards. Accommodation at the Zoo is a key component of our business model. It helps to secure our future financial sustainability, ensuring that the Zoo continues to be the premier inland tourist destination drawing visitors to the region, in turn supporting our critical animal breeding and conservation programs. The three overnight experiences at the Zoo combined – Zoofari Lodge, Savannah Cabins and Billabong Camp – welcomed over 36,000 guests last financial year. Having guests stay on site overnight is one of the most effective ways to drive meaningful connections that shape behaviour towards better outcomes for wildlife and habitats.
- A record breaking 585,872 people visited Adelaide and Monarto Zoo in the 2016/17 financial year, the largest turnout in our 134 year history. Plus, as one of South Australia’s largest membership-based organisations, we’re proud to now have more than 46,000 members who visit us regularly and support our conservation work. As a conservation charity, record visitors and members enables Zoos SA to connect more people with nature than ever before, which in turn funds our vital conservation and breeding programs to save species from extinction.