Can you tell us about the history of Territory Wildlife Park and a bit about the park today?
The Territory Wildlife Park is a cross between a national park and a wildlife park. It’s located in the outskirts of Darwin in the Northern Territory, with the original location being chosen as it contained all the major habitat types in the Top End that weren’t damaged by Cyclone Tracey. The park was opened in September of 1989, making this year our 30th year of engaging and educating the public.
It features a nocturnal house and aquarium; a woodland walk home to local wallabies and wallaroos; a billabong home to pelicans, freshwater crocs, turtles and fish; and the Monsoon Forest concluding with a massive dome aviary, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere at the time of construction. Visitors take delight in watching the ecosystem of our lagoon and its inhabitants change throughout the wetting and drying phase. The park also has a Flight Deck presentation which is well renowned. We fly many uniquely ‘top end’ species including Jabiru, Rufous Owl, Tiwi Islands Masked Owl, Bush Stone-curlew and Black-breasted Buzzard.
What are some of the conservation or sustainability initiatives at Territory Wildlife Park?
The Territory Wildlife Park has the Threatened Species Breeding Unit – a behind the scenes section specifically set up for breeding northern Australia’s rarest animals, currently focusing on the northern quoll. We also run a fully functional vet centre which acts as a drop-off location for sick and injured wildlife. We receive many animals each year which we, triage, treat and work closely with Wildcarers to nurse back to health and fitness.
Living in a cyclone prone area, we are continually engaging arborists to remove dangerous trees. Recently we engaged a new arborist who turns the tree into wildlife habitat. They trim the dangerous parts of the tree, then use the parts with structural integrity to install man-made hollows tailored to birds, marsupials or bats. This practice has reduced our green waste, reduced our contractor fees and has actively increased habitat for native wildlife.
Do you have examples of a good welfare idea you/your team came up with for your animals?
Within our Nocturnal House, we have conditioned most animals to voluntarily station onto the scales as a management tool for weighing without stressing animals or putting keepers at risk. Most Nocturnal House inhabitants are now comfortable approaching a keeper with food and happy to stand on the scales in the process. This has led to reductions in stress from both keepers and the animals, and also facilitates regular collection of weight records which better allows us to manage our animals health and welfare.