Zoo News - Spring 2022

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ZOOS VICTORIA MEMBER MAGAZINENEWS ZOO VOLUME 47 / SPRING 2022 THESE BIG CATS HAVE SOME IMPRESSIVE QUALITIES THAT YOU WON’T FIND IN YOUR DOMESTIC KITTY felines Fascinating SUSTAINABILITY Procurement How Zoos Victoria sources productsethicalandsuppliers ANIMAL Hungry caterpillars See behind the scenes of the Melbourne Zoo Butterfly House CONSERVATION Petite Pookila The tiny Victorian mouse that deserves your attention COMMUNITY Happy birthday We celebrate the 160th anniversary of Melbourne Zoo

WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s22) 30 MARCH – 1 APRIL 2023 Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall Book now mso.com.au

Dear members, Spring is finally here and we’re celebrating 160 years of Melbourne Zoo. What a beautiful time to visit your zoos – the gardens will be blooming and the animals will be warming up under the toasty spring sun. In this edition, you will learn to love the native mice that are part of a new conservation breeding program, the Endangered Pookila. Our carnivore keepers at Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo will introduce you to the big cats and you’ll hear about the wonderful work of veterinarian, Megan, as we follow her around for a day at Healesville Sanctuary’s Australian Wildlife Health Centre. It’s a jam-packed issue and we hope you enjoy it.  Dr Jenny Gray CEO, Zoos Victoria

ZOO NEWS MEMBER MAGAZINE SPRING 2022 3 16 A day in the life Very caterpillarscontented Behind the scenes of the Melbourne Zoo ButterflyHouse 04 News at the zoos 06 Precious Pookila The tiny mouse that deserves a lot of attention 08 Contented caterpillars Meet the creepy crawlies of the Melbourne Zoo Butterfly House 11 Big cats Learn all about these fearless felines 14 Celebrating 160 years We look back at 160 years of Melbourne Zoo 16 A day in the life Healesville Sanctuary veterinarian Megan 18 Elephant profiles Get to know the herd of Asian Elephants at Melbourne Zoo 20 HealesvilleSanctuary itinerary How to get the most out of your time when visiting the Sanctuary 22 Consciousconsumption Ways Zoos Victoria is engaging with ethical and supplierssustainable MANAGING DIRECTOR Nick Hardie-Grant ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Scott Elmslie EDITOR Georgia Lejeune DESIGN Dallas Budde, Kieran Medici ADVERTISING Kerri Spillane PRINTER Immij ZOOS VICTORIA Tracey Borch, Ethan Jenkins, Luke Moulton, Amy PearceZoos Victoria, PO Box 74, Parkville Vic 3052 P 03 9340 2780 / F 03 9285 9390 E members@zoo.org.au W zoo.org.au Zoo News is published for Zoos Victoria by Hardie Grant Media Have you visited lately? Share your visit with us and be sure to use the hashtag #zoomember

SPRING 2022 18 Elephant profiles

– We acknowledge


ACKNOWLEDGMENT the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work, and pay our respects to Elders both past and present. Printed on FSC® certified paper with vegetable-based inks. Zoos Victoria is a carbon-neutral organisation and powered by 100% renewable energy.


We are delighted to announce that Kyabram Fauna Park, located in Campaspe Shire, will join the Zoos Victoria family as our fourth zoo from October. As Australia’s largest zoo-based conservation organisation, our commitment to fighting extinction is only getting bigger, literally! Keep an eye on your inbox over the coming months to hear the latest updates – for now, hold tight.

NEWSZOO at the


Healesville Sanctuary welcomed the safe arrival of Ori, a Goodfellow’s Tree-kangaroo, in a major conservation milestone for the Endangered species. Next time you’re at Healesville Sanctuary, catch her popping out of mum’s pouch.   Click here



Two Eastern Quolls have arrived from a sanctuary in Tasmania where the species still survives in the wild. Sadly, Eastern Quolls are now extinct on mainland Australia. You can visit these two rare cuties in the Nocturnal House at Healesville Sanctuary.




You spoke and we listened. Zoos Victoria Members no longer need to book their member ticket online. While we still have capacity limits, our wonderful and loyal Zoo Members will continue to have access to the three zoos every day of the year and only need to scan their membership card at the gate. Keep in mind, if you’re bringing along a visitor they will need to pre-book their general admission tickets online as usual.

Head to Healesville Sanctuary each Saturday from 19 November to 10 December (3–7pm). The event is free with admission and features fun for the family – including lawn games, bubble play and face painting. The zoos are places for love, new life and, sadly, sometimes loss. Check out the latest animal happenings at your zoos.




We’ve updated the format of our member terms and conditions to make them easier to read. To view the full terms and conditions on our website Tips for


We celebrated the arrival of Fungile (pronounced foon-gil-ee), a Plains Zebra foal who was welcomed into the world at Werribee Open Range Zoo.


WORDS Gus Goswell

“The Pookila might be similar in size to the introduced house mouse we all know, but it’s also so different.”


he Pookila is a tiny, endangered native mouse with a big future ahead of it thanks to a brand new conservation breeding program at Melbourne Zoo. Zoos Victoria Native Rodent Biologist Dr Phoebe Burns fell in love with the Pookila a decade ago, and that love only continues to deepen the more she“Atstudies it.first,convincing people to love native mice can be a hard sell,” Dr Burns says. “I say mouse and people immediately think of the stinky little pest invading their home. But the Pookila is something else completely. First of all, the Pookila doesn’t smell. And sadly, it’s not likely to turn up at your house.” That’s because wild Pookila numbers have gone down in recent decades and it is now Endangered in the wild in Victoria. In fact, seven out of the 12 known Victorian Pookila populations are extinct, leaving five wild populations at sites across the Gippsland region in Victoria’s east – including Wilsons Promontory National Park. Habitat loss, drought, climate change, competition from non-native species and feral predators are all contributing to the Pookila’s current plight.

DR PHOEBE BURNS Zoos Victoria Native Rodent Biologist 6

Sweet release Dr Phoebe Burns studies the wild Pookila that live at Wilsons Promontory National Park in Victoria.


MOUSENO ordinary

A tiny new critter has taken up residence at Melbourne Zoo, and it’s no ordinary mouse. Meet the Pookila, one of Australia’s most amazing native rodents.

If you haven’t heard the name Pookila before, perhaps you’ve heard this species’ previously used common name – the New Holland Mouse. These days, this mouse is known as the Pookila – a name derived from the Ngarigo word for mouse, bugila, which was adopted by the Federal Government in 1995 as the Indigenous name for the species. And, according to Dr Burns, this is a native rodent that deserves to be a household name. “The Pookila might be similar in size to the introduced house mouse we all know, but it’s also so different,” Dr Burns explains. “It has larger eyes, rounded ears, a bi-coloured pink and dusky brown tail, and of course no mousey odour at all. It’s just gorgeous.” The many years Dr Burns and fellow scientists have studied the Pookila have now led to a brand-new conservation program for the species.

ZOO NEWS MEMBER MAGAZINE SPRING 2022 7 offspring back into the wild.

Clearly there is still so much more to learn about these remarkable rodents.

YOU CAN HELP To donate to Zoos Victoria’s Fighting Extinction programmes, Click here Did you know?

The Pookila Captive Breeding and Reintroduction Program is a collaboration between the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Gippsland Water, Moonlit Sanctuary, Parks Victoria, Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia, Zoos Victoria and members of the national Pookila Recovery Team.

Weighing the Pookila Dr Phoebe Burns in the field

The Victorian Pookila Captive Breeding and Reintroduction Program will see genetically diverse breeding pairs matched and housed at Melbourne Zoo and Moonlit Sanctuary in Pearcedale, with the eventual goal of releasing the and considered. The team has found some Pookila are early risers, others like to sleep in, some are shy, others are confident, some dig their own burrows and others like to sleep in nest boxes.

Dr Burns explains that wild population declines have led to a severe lack of genetic diversity, requiring urgent intervention. Twenty-two mice carefully collected from the five remaining wild populations form the basis of the new conservation breeding program, all with the goal of strengthening existing populations and creating new ones. “Here in Victoria, we probably have only a few thousand Pookila left in the wild, and that is quite a catastrophic decline,” Dr Burns says. “Working with our conservation partners, we want to boost numbers in the wild back up to a sustainable level where they can be safe into the future. “We are going to be pairing our animals based on how genetically different they are so that their babies are going to have the best, most diverse, genetics and then we can reintroduce those animals back into the wild to boost genetics in the wild populations.” And it’s not only genetic diversity influencing which mice get paired together. Individual personality differences have also been observed

With the mice now settling into their new relationships, the future is looking brighter for the Pookila in Victoria.

“It’s wonderful to have two great facilities where we can breed the mice and build up our numbers so that we have animals to release back into the wild,” Dr Burns says. “It is really exciting to be able to make a difference in the long-term conservation of this gorgeous native species.” ZN A Pookila is released back into the wild


WORDS Jo Stewart Behind the scenes of Melbourne Zoo’s Butterfly House a dedicated team of experts help more than 10,000 caterpillars transform into butterflies each year.


Did you know? Most butterflies in Melbourne Zoo’s Butterfly House are tropical species found in balmier climates, but Caper Whites, Common Grass Yellows and Orchard Swallowtails can be found throughout Victoria.



Cruiser Butterfly caterpillar Birdwing caterpillarButterfly OrangecaterpillarLacewing

7 September in all zoo shops or Online here

Soon, caterpillars hatch out of those eggs before they mature into a chrysalis (or pupa) – a process that takes about four weeks. Then, they’re hung up on display in the Butterfly House, ready for the butterflies to emerge and take flight. Gardeners know that caterpillars have a voracious appetite, so providing lots of leaves for them to munch on is essential. Not just any leaves will do, each species has a preferred diet. “A few species of caterpillars eat different plants, but most are quite specific. Orchard Swallowtails eat citrus, Cairns Birdwings eat a native vine called Aristolochia tagala and Cruiser Butterflies are fed Passiflora (passionfruit),” says Kristy. The plants fed to the caterpillars are grown on site by nursery staff tasked



Totes for Wildlife

The only butterfly endemic to Victoria, the Endangered Goldenrayed Blue Butterfly is the fourth species (and first invertebrate) to grace the Totes for Wildlife range, which has featured the Plainswanderer, Mountain Pygmy-possum and Helmeted Honeyeater in previous years. The funds raised by Totes for Wildlife support the ongoing protection and improvement of vital native habitat. For Goldenrayed Blue Butterflies, Myoporum parvifolium (creeping boobialla) is the key plant needed for its survival. Every tote bag sold will help Zoos Victoria work with partners to plant Myoporum in Western Victoria’s Wimmera region – the only place this relatively newly-discovered species is found in the wild. Apart from raising funds to support conservation projects, Totes for Wildlife aims to boost recognition of Victoria’s under-the-radar species. “Since starting Totes for Wildlife, we’ve sold more than 44,000 bags. We’re hoping to sell 10,000 Golden-rayed Blue Butterfly bags, so that means we’ll hopefully hit the 50,000 milestone, which is pretty exciting,” says Peter Lancaster, Zoo’s Victoria’s Conservation Campaigner.CommunityToteBagsareonsalefrom


ou might not have thought about it before, but a lot of work goes on in the background to ensure a steady supply of caterpillars morph into the 12 or so butterfly species you see fluttering around Melbourne Zoo’s Butterfly House. “It is meticulous and ordered work. It’s a very different type of keeping to every other kind of keeping,” says Kristy, Ectotherm Keeper – Invertebrates at Melbourne Zoo. The process starts with specific plants for egg laying being placed in the Butterfly House. After about a week of butterflies landing and laying eggs on them, the plants are moved to a heated glasshouse that acts as a caterpillarrearing facility.

with keeping the hungry caterpillars happy. If there is a shortage of certain types of plants, ectotherm keepers will temporarily reduce the number of caterpillars they’re keeping in the glasshouse.“Wewantasmany butterflies as possible, but the nursery team need to keep up with the amount of leaf that the caterpillars eat,” says Kristy, who explains that a monthly butterfly count ensures there is a good balance of species within the Butterfly House. Disease and pest prevention is essential when caring for growing caterpillars. Plants are kept on water wells to keep ants away and frequent cleaning helps to stop bacteria and mould“Frassgrowth.–which is another name for insect poo – needs to be cleaned every day to prevent disease,” says Kristy. She explains that many people wouldn’t realise that the caterpillars in her care have unique and interesting characteristics, just like other animals.


“The Blue Tiger is a striking blue-andblack caterpillar, while the Common Grass Yellow is a teeny, tiny green caterpillar that turns into a gorgeous yellow butterfly,” says Kristy.



Some even smell different than others, with Chequered Swallowtail and Orchard Swallowtail caterpillars known to emit a pheromone with a pungent citrus aroma. “The caterpillars are all different,” says Kristy. “They really do have their quirks and individualities.” N


10 *Terms and Conditions apply. Visit zoo.org.au/membership-partner-benefits for more information Zoos Victoria Members save on Family Tickets* SAVE OVER 20% VILLAGECINEMAS.COM.AU


CATERPILLARS You can see the beautiful butterflies at the Melbourne Zoo Butterfly House. may be tiny but these caterpillars will spend most of their day eating green matter (leaves).

ZOO NEWS MEMBER MAGAZINE SPRING 2022 11 Meet Zoos Victoria’s roar-some paw-some feline foursome Although cats come in all shapes and sizes, only five are technically ‘big’. Find out who they are, how they live and where to see them at our zoos. WORDS Beth Wallace fheTZooiles BIG CATS

Werribee Open Range Zoo has welcomed a new Lion king. Fiveyear-old Sheru (pictured above) – the Zoo’s only adult male – is an ideal age to start his own family pride. His arrival marks an exciting new era for Lion conservation, with keeper Kristin explaining, “The Lions here form part of an international and regional breeding program to maintain a genetically diverse pride and aid conservation efforts of wild Lion populations”.



“Unlike smaller cats, none of the big cats are capable of purring due to the lack of the epihyal bone,” says Werribee Open Range Zoo’s Big Cat Keeper, Kristin. “Powerful ligaments replace this solid structure of the voice box (larynx) and, when stretched, most big cats can produce a fearsome roar.”

Big or small, all cats share a number of similarities. For starters, they are obligate carnivores (meaning meat is essential to their diet) and express territorial behaviours, such as patrolling and scent-marking their domains. However, one feature that distinguishes big cats from their smaller cousins –aside from their size – is the noise they make.



Snow Leopard Weighing 30 to 40kg and measuring up to 150cm from head to tail base, Snow Leopards are the smallest ‘big cat’ and the only Panthera species that can’t roar. Their fluffy tails (which are almost as long as their bodies) help with balance and act as draught excluders, which they wrap around themselves for warmth. These ‘ghosts of the mountains’ ost of the world’s 40 or so cat species are small, just like your family pet, but there is one special group that deserves the title ‘big cat’. This name is generally given to the five members of the Panthera genus: Tigers, Jaguars, Lions, Leopards and Snow Leopards (though some people include Cheetahs and Pumas as well).


Lion King


Cheetahs can sprint up to 110km/h, which comes in handy when pursuing gazelle and other prey. At Werribee Open Range Zoo, keepers sometimes replicate this hunting scenario for resident Cheetah Kulinda, using a lure to chase food around her exhibit. On such occasions, it’s easy to see why this spotted species is so swift: their claws enable traction while running and their long tail provides balance, with the tip acting as a rudder to quickly change direction. As much as Kulinda enjoys the thrill of the hunt, Kristin admits, “She’s also very clever and sometimes will just wait around a corner so that she doesn’t have to do the full chase.”


Sumatran Tiger Tigers are the world’s largest big cats (though Sumatran Tigers, like Melbourne Zoo residents Hutan and Indrah, are smaller than African Lions). Skilled ambush predators, they use their striped orange-and-black bodies to hide in the dappled light of their forest home prefer to live away from their mums from around 18 months onwards, which is why Melbourne Zoo’s two-yearold sisters, Asha and Manju, are cohabiting away from mum, Miska. Craig, Carnivore and Ungulates Keeper, explains, “Miska is certainly happy to have her habitat all to herself and is enjoying the peace and quiet.” African Lion Instantly recognisable thanks to the adult male’s mane – and known for their mighty roar, which can be heard up to eight kilometres away – Lions are the only big cat species that live in social groups, says Kristin. “All other big cat species live a solitary lifestyle, unless you are ever lucky enough to spot a mother with her cubs,” she says. Communal living makes the Lionesses a hunting force to be reckoned with, as they work together to bring down prey, including zebra and wildebeest.

Sadly, the Sumatran Tiger population was listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2008. There were estimated to be 441 679 individuals. Big sleepers Lions sleep for 16–20 hours a day. They most often hunt at dawn or dusk, but can adapt to their prey by changing their schedule.

ROAR Unlike other big cats, Snow Leopards cannot roar. They communicate using mews, growls, hisses and wails. Click here

All big cats are under threat, in large part due to habitat loss. Help protect the Critically Endangered Sumatran Tiger by buying 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil products, or products free from palm oil, to stop unsustainable plantations destroying their home

You can see the big cats when you visit Melbourne Zoo or Werribee Open Range Zoo.



Cheetah Even though Cheetahs belong to their own genus, Acinonyx (because unlike their Panthera cousins, they have semiretractable claws), they’re often referred to as big cats. As the world’s fastest land animal, so they can pad close to prey before making their final charge. These solitary (but not asocial) creatures communicate via scent marks, explains Monique, Carnivore and Ungulates Keeper. “Unless for purposes of mating or displacing the resident animal, Tigers generally avoid one another, as unintentional meetings can be fatal. Siblings Hutan and Indrah live in separate habitats – and that’s just the way they like it.” FACTS

Built for speed

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world. They can typically reach speeds of up to 98 kilometres per hour.




Early beginnings Despite its rich history, Melbourne Zoo’s roots lie in humble beginnings.

MELBOURNE ZOOlooks beyond its160th ANNIVERSARY


Since its earliest days, Melbourne Zoo has been a place of wonder for animal lovers all over the world. For Victorians, the Zoo stands as an icon of the state. Melbourne Zoo is your Zoo.

WORDS MichaelromZubreckyjitsorigins as an acclimatisation facility for animals from abroad, to the modern zoo-based conservation organisation of today, Melbourne Zoo’s passion has always been animals. Although the animals and species at the Zoo have changed over the decades, and the way those animals are housed and cared for has evolved enormously, a sense of wonder at the beauty and diversity of the world’s wildlife has remained constant. In October 2022, Melbourne Zoo will celebrate 160 years of history.

In October of 1857, the Zoological Society of Victoria was officially formed and by the following January it had acquired 33 acres of swamp land in Richmond Paddock, opposite the Botanic Gardens.

The seeds of today’s zoo-based conservation organisation were sown.


In the late 1850s, a meeting was held in Melbourne to form an Ornithological Society, intended to house a variety of birds and fine poultry. But the discussion grew more ambitious throughout the meeting, and it was decided instead that a Zoological Society be created that would exist “both for the purpose of science and for that of affording the public the advantage of studying the habits of animals in creation”, according to minutes from the meeting.

As the Great Depression swept the world in the 1930s, the Zoo was suffering. With rapidly depleting financial support, a new organisation was formed to replace the Acclimatisation Society, called the Zoological Board of Victoria. And with this change came a renewed sense of optimism and shift in focus for the Zoo. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, Melbourne Zoo moved into a period of modernisation, and looked to emulate the practices of zoos overseas by becoming a zoo without bars. During this time, scientific study and more positive animal-husbandry practices were heavily prioritised. Melbourne Zoo’s unofficial historian and talented member of the Zoo’s horticulture team, Karen Rawady, says this period of transformation changed the course of the Zoo’s history.“Inthe 1960s, discussions around the world regarding the value and role of zoos led to a real change in perspective within the international zoo community,” Karen says. “Melbourne Zoo began to radically transform its presentation and treatment of animals, with a heightened awareness of animal welfare. “We moved away from this idea of animals behind bars, and introduced moats and wide open spaces for animals to move around freely in their habitats.”

Change of focus

Acclimatisation society

With conservation programs stretching back decades, today the Zoo works at the forefront of conservation science as it heads into its 160th year as an organisation –with conservation programs aiming to preserve wild futures for Critically Endangered local species of all shapes and sizes. Driven by expertise and optimism, Melbourne Zoo also works for wildlife on the frontlines through the life-saving work of the Melbourne Zoo Marine Response Unit, conservation programs, and emergency response helping wildlife affected by bushfire, heatwaves, floods and other natural disasters.

Conservation and looking beyond 160 years

Since this time, Melbourne Zoo has been committed to making a difference for wildlife, from the world’s rarest animals to the Critically Endangered species of Victoria.

Zoos Victoria CEO, Dr Jenny Gray, says conservation will continue to be at the forefront of everything Melbourne Zoo does in the future. “Good zoos of the future will be committed to working for animals, through conservation, care and rescue,” Dr Gray says. “At Zoos Victoria, we are constantly improving the ways that we care for animals, always led and informed by science. “Over the coming decades, we will continue to make an increasingly important contribution to conservation. If we succeed, then we will still be able to see animals in the wild.” N

The Zoological Society of Victoria was formed. 1861 The Acclimatisation Society of Victoria took over. 1930s The Zoo suffered from the Great Depression and the Zoological Board of Victoria was formed in response. 1950s & ’60s Modernisation occurred, following practices from overseas of becoming a zoo without bars. TODAY Conservation efforts, education, care and rescue are key points of

In 1861, the Zoological Society of Victoria was replaced by the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, which took over the management of Richmond Paddock, and the next year it opened its doors at a new location at Royal Park, with the design and layout of the new Zoo modelled on the renowned London Zoo.


Click here WHAT’S HAPPENING? For details on what’s happening at Melbourne Zoo Click here




how to maintain their population – it’s much more holistic,” explains Megan. Each case is an opportunity to build on a growing body of information to help animals in the future. “We work collaboratively with veterinarians at Zoos Victoria and throughout Australia, and all over the world. We also work with organisations such as Wildlife Health Australia to contribute to their animal health databases. There are publications that zoo veterinarians contribute to that help everyone treat animals more successfully,” says Megan.


WORDS Alegria Alano fter 15 years of working as a achallenge.Megansmall-animal-veterinarian,wantedanew“Ididworkwithquitelotofexoticpetsandeventually



A day in the life


Another essential partnership is with the zoo “They’rekeepers.veryfamiliar with their animal’s normal behaviour, demeanour and appetite. If they think something is wrong, it usually is, in which case they will call us,” Megan says.

realised that I’d rather work with wildlife,” she says. Megan studied a Master of Veterinary Studies in Conservation Medicine and Wildlife Medicine before working at Melbourne Zoo, then as a veterinarian at Healesville Sanctuary where she’s been for the past six years. Her role is unique in that Megan cares for Sanctuary animals, threatened species and wild animals at the Australian Wildlife Health Centre (AWHC). “We’re not only looking after animals for the Sanctuary, but we’re also attempting to learn more about their health and disease in the wild, and 16

Training, treatments and tracking are all in a day’s work for veterinarian Megan.

A privilege to practise “I like the fact that I can get close to these animals, observe them and see how cool they are,” Megan explains about her favourite part of the job. This is especially true for examining her favourite animal, the echidna. “Their anatomy, physiology and everything is so weird. They’re playful and inquisitive and just make me laugh,” she says.

Medical training Megan also liaises with keepers and the training coordinator for animal behaviour training. If an animal can be trained to participate in its own healthcare, this helps to minimise stress. “For example, all of our kangaroos are trained to hop on the

Megan says that note-taking is key for all rounds. “Keeping thorough clinical records is essential for managing cases and adds to our database of wildlife veterinary knowledge.”

You can observe the veterinarians working at the Australian Wildlife Health Centre by visiting Healesville Sanctuary.

Daily rounds Megan’s round may differ each day, ranging through Sanctuary animals, external wildlife and surgical or diagnostic procedures. Each comes with specific tasks but usually starts with a morning meeting with other veterinarians and nurses to discuss that day’s cases. “I do my Sanctuary rounds with an AWHC nurse. We assess the progress of animals in the hospital, give them treatments, update keepers and write records. I’ll then go and see animals within the Sanctuary that are sick or need a routine check-up or parasite prevention,” says Megan. Sanctuary animals and external wildlife are always kept separate to avoid transmission of disease. When treating external wildlife, the focus is to ensure that the animal is rehabilitated so it can thrive when it is released. “During the wildlife round, you might give medications or (for example) test-fly a bird to assess its progress after an injury,” says Megan. This round might also include treating animals in care with wildlife carers or discussing husbandry practices for rehabilitating injured wildlife. The procedures round involves performing scheduled surgeries or anaesthetising animals for diagnosis. Post-mortem investigations may also be performed – these examinations are important for diagnosis and disease surveillance.

Did you know? Kangaroos at the Sanctuary are taught to hop on the scales to be weighed, helping to minimise stress.


scales and allow themselves to be weighed. We also have one older kangaroo who has a heart murmur, and she’s currently being trained to allow us to listen to her heart with a stethoscope,” says Megan.

Another aspect that she enjoys is discovery. “We are learning all the time and are constantly amazed, impressed and delighted by the animals. If we can help, wonderful, that’s what we want to do. But just being around these animals is a privilege.” ZN


The mums-to-be live their everyday life during gestation, which can be up to 22 months. “We allow them to be elephants, be together and do their own thing. We invest a lot of energy setting up their habitats with resources, variation and interest to really get them out and about,” Jasmine says.

Luk Chai, a 13-year-old bull, came from Taronga Western Plains in 2020 not only for breeding, but also to socialise and mentor Man Jai as he grows older. Luk Chai is the biggest elephant at the Zoo and is the father of the three calves expected to arrive in late 2022 and early 2023. He has distinct pink colouring on his ears and a few extra rolls under his chin. He enjoys the water, so for the boys, socialising often happens in the pool. “If Luk Chai is in, you couldn’t keep Man Jai out. He tries to ride him and push him into the water – it’s really like watching two boys play,” Jasmine says.

“If you see an elephant on its own, it’s going to be one of the bulls,” says keeper Jasmine. The bulls spend at least two to three days alone but socialise as they would in the wild.

Luk Chai enjoys eating hay but does have another favourite food. “I’ve noticed Luk Chai sometimes heads straight for the celery past the hay,” explains Jasmine.

18 Elephant Keeper Jasmine gives us the lowdown on how to identify who’s who in Melbourne Zoo’s herd of Asian Elephants and what their family connections are.

WORDS Alegria Alano ANIMAL

LUK CHAI MAN JAI Each elephant in Melbourne Zoo’s Trail of the Elephants has its own unique personality and identifying characteristics. Get to know each member of the herd and see if you can spot who’s who next time you visit.


MATRIARCH NUM-OI Came to the Zoo in 2006 MEK KAPAH Came to the Zoo in 1978 when she was five as the Zoo’s first elephant LUK CHAI Came from Taronga Western Plains in 2020 CalfEarlyexpected2023 CalfLateexpected2022

KEY: Female Male


The Zoo’s Cooperative Conservation Breeding Program is crucial for the Endangered Asian Elephant. It is the reason the herd keeps growing, with new breeding members, calves already born at the Zoo, and three more on the way. Having three calves in a herd at once mirrors herd dynamics in the wild. The trio of calves will be able to develop together and teach each other the ways of being an elephant. It also means the mothers can learn, observe and support each other throughout the pregnancies and birthing process.

Man Jai, who was born at Melbourne Zoo, is nine years old and has become independent. “From the age of eight or nine onwards, bulls live a satellite existence to the herd,” explains Jasmine. Man Jai likes to spend time alone in the first habitat of the Trail of the Elephants. As the youngest, he’s never seen a calf before. “He’s going to have to be big brother,” says Jasmine. “He’ll be so curious and it’ll be really interesting to see his reaction.”

NUM-OI Dokkoon’s

ONGARD First bull born at the Zoo in 2010 –now in America as part of a programbreedingCalf expected Late 2022 In the female herd, Mek Kapah is the biggest, oldest – at 49-years – and hairiest. She arrived at the Zoo on 11 May 1978 from Malaysia. She is the matriarch (leader) of the herd and is closely bonded with Dokkoon.


earlobes.featurecharacteristicmostisherdroopy“It’slike she’s wearing teardrop shaped earrings,” says Jasmine. She shares this trait with her daughter Mali, with whom she is tightly bonded. She is the second oldest elephant at 29. Dokkoon’s favourite food is fresh browse – a mix of twigs, branches and stumps that the elephants graze on by tosmallerandleavesstrippingandbarkbreakingoffshardseat.

Kulab arrived at Melbourne Zoo in 2006 from Thailand and is the only elephant at the Zoo with tusks. She is the mother of Ongard – born at Melbourne Zoo in 2010 – who is part of a breeding program in America.

Expectant mum Num-oi has noticeably rounded features. “She’s got big feet, wide legs, a really round face and is very hairless,” says Jasmine. Num-oi has a cautious personality. If the herd is moving, you’ll often find Num-oi towards the back waiting for others to pass through. “You’ll see her eyes scanning the environment to make her decision about her best pathway because she is the more subordinate female. She’s not going to push anyone off their food, she knows she’s going to have to find what hasn’t been found yet,” Jasmine explains.

“If you see the females together, the smallest one will definitely be Mali,” says Jasmine. She also has a distinct zig-zag tail that she got from her father Bong Su. Mali was the first elephant to be born at Melbourne Zoo and is now expecting. As a first-time mum, 12-year-old Mali gets special treats. “She gets a few extra biscuits of lucern to make sure that she’s getting enough nourishment to continue growing while she’s also growing a calf,” says Jasmine. Jasmine and the keepers are confident that she’ll take to motherhood well. “We think she’ll do great because she’s always been a really great big sister to Man Jai, and she’s shown signs of being really protective,” Jasmine says.

DOKKOON Came to the Zoo in 2006 LUK CHAI KULAB Came to the Zoo in 2006


“Kulab is tightly bonded with Num-oi,” explains Jasmine. The two came to the Zoo at the same time and are only a year in age apart – Num-oi is 21 and Kulab is 22. Kulab will likely be paired with Numoi during birth for support. KULAB


DOKKOON BONG SU (deceased)

MAN JAI Born at the Zoo 2013

MALI First calf born at the Zoo 2010


A little more time at the Sanctuary means you can add on a visit to the Land of Parrots, stop in at the Animals of The Night habitat. Align your visit with one of the two Spirits of the Sky presentations (12pm and 3pm), which feature an array of amazing birds including raptors and parrots – each show is different so take in both if you have the time. The demonstration features an augmented hearing feature for people with low hearing – download the Listen Everywhere app. Learn about the Traditional Owners of the land, the Wurundjeri people, by taking the Wurundjeri Walk – which will take you over Coranderrk Creek and through to the RACV Lyrebird Aviary. Notice the native trees and flowers that surround the creek.





A of how much time you have, are lots of ways to discover the delights of Healesville Sanctuary. put together an itinerary that most out of your visit.

Two-hour turnaround You’ll Get the most out of a short trip to the Sanctuary by starting at the Koala Forest and continuing on through Kangaroo Country. This track allows you to see some of the most iconic Australian animals, such as koalas lazily munching on eucalyptus leaves, big kangaroos sunning themselves in the dirt and echidnas scuffling around for ants and bugs to snack on. Be on the look out for tree-kangaroos, which sit high up in the branches or on platforms in their habitat. A quick stop at Bunjil Nature Play for the kids, and a coffee or takeaway food at Sanctuary Harvest café, will round out the two hours of fun.

Australian Wildlife Health Centre Wildlife Hospital KKangarooIslandangaroos Tree kangaroos WParmaallabies

Keep an eye out The Australian Wildlife Health Centre and Future Vets is closed for an upgrade and will reopen later this year. Check the Member VIP Zone for updates on the exact opening dates Click here

20 ANIMAL Wallabies

Visit: Koala Forest and Kangaroo Country Wurundjeri Walk and Dingoes Land of the Parrots


WORDS Georgia Lejeune Jo Howell


s any Zoo Member or visitor to SanctuaryHealesvillewillattest, it’s a special place to see iconic Australian animals. Its picturesque bushland setting within the Yarra Ranges also makes it an idyllic place to explore native flora, understand more about the Traditional Owners and embrace an opportunity to switch off from busy city life. While you’re there, take advantage of the undercover picnic tables and outdoor grassy areas as well as the free barbecues. Dine at one of the on site cafés – Candlebark Cafe, Pavilion Cafe and Sanctuary Harvest – where the menus are updated seasonally and include local produce from the Yarra Valley, including wine, beer and chocolates. We’ve put together a suggested itinerary depending on how much time you have to spend at the Sanctuary.

Visit: Koala Forest and Kangaroo Country Four hours of fun

will help you get the




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Can you spot Orange-belliedanParrot?

A full day to enjoy Aside from visiting animals along the Woodlands Track, make sure to visit Land of the Parrots – look out for the magnificent Red-tailed Black cockatoo, bush budgerigars and the Pink Cockatoo. If you’re spending the day, pre-order one of the delicious picnic or barbecue packs available at the Sanctuary – you can expect the choice of freshly made sandwiches, fruit, food for the kiddies and a cheese and cured meat platter in the picnic pack selections, and barbecue packs with salads, meat and soft drinks. Visit: Koala Forest and Kangaroo Country Wurundjeri Walk and Dingoes Land of the Parrots Woodlands Track WoodlandsTrack Be sure to pop into Animals of the Night to see the Mountain Pygmypossums. KangarooCountry Can you spy the Goodfellow’s Treekangaroo up high in the treetops? Click here

SUNDOWN AT THE SANCTUARY November–December will see a return of this event each Saturday evening. It’s free with entry and will include food stalls, drinks and music on the lawn. Kids activities will be available – such as face painting and bubble play. See our Sundown at the Sanctuary link for more Keeper talks Take in a Keeper Talk while you’re wandering around the Sanctuary. New talks include the echidnas at 1pm daily (meet at the entrance to Koala Forest) and a talk at the Fighting Extinction Aviary, 2.45pm daily.


ZOO NEWS MEMBER MAGAZINE SPRING 2022 21 CoranderrkCreek BiAridrds Kookaburras DTasmanianevils DTasmanianevils Wombats BiWoodlandrds Barn OwlsPelicanQuolls AnimalsoftheNight PMountainygmy-possumsEasternBarredBandicoot FlightArena Land of Parrots GuthegaSkinks Reptiles LRACVyrebirdAviary TSpottedreeFrogs Wetlands SpRoyaloonbills Swans WurundjeriWalk Dingoes KOAL A FOREST Koalas Echidnas KRedangaroos Fighting Extinction Aviary Emus Brolga K A N G A R O O C O U N T RY Echidnas EchidnasKoalas &EMainntryExit

Dingoes Learn about our native canines by attending the Keeper Talk at 3:15pm daily.

Visit the Sanctuary on a Sunday and you’ll find Wurundjeri Elder Murrundindi sharing stories about his culture. Sometimes you might see him at the front entrance to the Sanctuary playing the didgeridoo.


Zoos Victoria’s Procurement Manager, Naomi Muscat-Leov, is targeting 100 per cent responsible procurement by ensuring that Zoos Victoria’s suppliers are operating in sustainable and ethical ways that minimise environmental and social impacts.

“For the animals that need aquatic species in their diet, we need to ensure that their nutritional requirements are

WORDS Jo Stewart

“Supporting local businesses is also important. We work with many Indigenous suppliers and social enterprises that support disadvantaged Victorians,” says Naomi. You’ll find many eco-friendly and sustainable items in Zoos Victoria’s shops and online store. There are 100 per cent recycled plush toys, biodegradable dinnerware, homewares made with sustainably sourced Australian timber by local businesses,



To do this, the procurement team conducts thorough supply chain reviews to assess if suppliers are and clothing featuring prints by Warlukurlangu Artists – an Aboriginalowned not-for-profit organisation.

Naomi explains that when buying food for the animals in its care, Zoos Victoria sources the most ethical options that are accredited as best practice in the industry.

Naomi explains that responsible procurement can be complicated but leads to worthwhile outcomes.

staggering number of products and services are necessary to keep Zoos Victoria operating, and each one has passed strict criteria – some of these include food, drinks, uniforms and utilities.

It’s a complex, huge undertaking, but it’s necessary.”

With every dollar we spend acting as a vote for the businesses we buy from, Zoos Victoria is focused on supporting environmentally and socially responsible enterprises. aligned with Zoos Victoria’s values and ways of operating. Gender diversity, fair and safe workplace practices, and environmentally sustainable outputs and practices are essential.


Looking behind the curtain Businesses that supply less-visible services such as banking, utilities and superannuation are also under“We’rereview.asking all the hard questions to ensure that they’re aligned with Zoos Victoria’s ethics,” says Naomi. Animal welfare is another piece of the puzzle.

“It’s something we take extremely seriously,” says Naomi. We must do everything we can to mitigate impacts on natural resources and not add to the problems we’re trying to tackle.

Spotlight on the supply chain

From the food served at the three zoos, to the items stocked in the Zoo Shops, Zoos Victoria is focused on partnering with suppliers that operate in an ethical, fair and responsible way.

“We all do procurement every day and everything we buy has an impact. We can all make good choices to support organisations that are doing the right thing for the environment. You might not get it perfect every time, but it’s about being educated and making conscious decisions,” says Naomi. Take care to do your research when signing up for new household utilities and choosing where you do your grocery shopping and which organisations you support. Be on the lookout for ‘green washing’, where companies market themselves as being sustainable but their practices are far from ethical. Here are some ideas to get you started: Source coffee beans from ethical, responsible growers Find out where your coffee beans are coming from and whether the processes are ethical and sustainable. Ask questions such as: X Are the workers earning a living wage? X Are the growing and roasting practices sustainable? X Do the plantations destroy or impact local wildlife?

For instance, elephant manure and compostable waste and packaging from the restaurants and café outlets all end up in Melbourne Zoo’s in-vessel compost machine. The compost created is then used by the horticulture team to grow plants and is sold as Zoo Gro in nurseries. The zoos also capture and use recycled water.

Zoos Victoria also harnesses the power of the circular economy. Waste outputs are considered during purchasing decisions, with preferences given to systems or arrangements that minimise or eliminate waste. “We’re single-use-plastic-free across all zoos. The waste streams are wellmanaged and contained,” says Naomi.

ZOO NEWS MEMBER MAGAZINE SPRING 2022 23 met, but that we’re also sourcing the most sustainable and ethical species so that we’re not adding to an existing issue,” she says.

ZN Shop at farmers’ markets Go straight to the source and buy your produce from local farmers’ markets. Not only are you getting a fresher product that will last longer, the carbon footprint to get the produce from the farm to you will be far less than if you’d bought from a major retailer. Supporting your small local shops is another great way to reduce your impact on the environment –and it will foster a great sense of community too. Switch to a renewable energy provider Find out which energy providers rely on renewable energy and separate those that buy electricity from the open market – which is dominated by coal. Greenpeace has put together a great resource list of renewable energy companies in each state and how they are each taking action to become greener.

An easy place to begin is with your toilet paper. Recycled toilet paper brands such as icare sort lots of different paper products, including textbooks and office paper, and turn them into cushy loo roll that you can buy at the supermarket. Make the switch today and see if your family notices the difference. For more information WATER

Responsible procurement doesn’t stop with businesses and big organisations, it’s something you can be conscious of in your own home.

X Can I source eco-friendly coffee pods if I don’t have an espresso machine that takes beans? Choose recycled toilet paper


Embracing the circular economy

COMPOSTERHOTPLANTRECYCLINGROT Click here Click here to access the guide.

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