Zoo News - Autumn 2023

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ZOOS VICTORIA MEMBER MAGAZINE trumpeting trunks Tiny NEWS ZOO VOLUME 48 / AUTUMN 2023 A TRIO OF ELEPHANT CALVES HAS JOINED THE MULTI-GENERATIONAL HERD AT MELBOURNE ZOO. SUSTAINABILITY Habitats at home Be inspired to create your own backyard haven ANIMAL Meet Amy-Rose Learn what it takes to be an Animal Welfare Research Officer CONSERVATION Coffee for Wildlife Make your cup count: support farmers, protect forests, save wildlife COMMUNITY Visit Kyabram Hit the road to see the newest member of the Zoos Victoria family


To g e t h e r, l e t ’s m a k e l i t t e r e x t i n c t !

As rain falls and flows through the landscape, it picks up litter from our streets which ends up in rivers and creeks home to native wildlife like the platypus.

That ’s why Melbourne Water & Zoos Victoria partner to make litter extinct!

Can you help?

Test your knowledge and pledge to make litter extinct!

Take our quiz Click here

g e t h e r, l e t ’s m a k e l i t t e r e x t i n c t !


Dear members,

It has been a delight to see you flock to our zoos over the summer. It is always encouraging to see our youngest members mesmerised by wildlife and hear their thirst for learning more about our conservation campaigns. In this edition we are giving you an in-depth update on the highly anticipated elephant births at Melbourne Zoo. Take a look behind the scenes into a day in the life of our Animal Welfare Research Officer, Amy-Rose. Meet the newest member of the Zoos Victoria family, Kyabram Fauna Park, and discover why you should book a trip to Victoria’s northern region. Plus, we are sharing waste and planetsaving tips from Jodie, our very own sustainability superhero. We hope you are inspired by this edition and continue to join us in the fight against wildlife extinction. Together we are so much stronger.

ZOO NEWS MEMBER MAGAZINE AUTUMN 2023 3 18 A day in the life of an Animal Welfare Research Officer Introducing three Endangered Asian Elephant calves 04 News at the zoos 06 Kyabram Fauna Park Explore the newest member of our family in Victoria’s northern region 08 Coffee for Wildlife How Zoos Victoria’s new coffee brand is supporting wildlife conservation 11 Asian Elephants Get to know the new additions to our herd 14 Directors Meet the four Zoos Victoria property directors 16 Creating wildlife habitats at home Make your backyard (or balcony) a wildlife haven 18 A day in the life Animal Welfare Research Officer, Amy-Rose 20 Back from the brink Zoos Victoria’s new Amphibian Bushfire Recovery Centre is fighting to save three rare native frog species 22 Sustainability champion Waste warrior Jodie shares her top sustainability tips MANAGING DIRECTOR Nick Hardie-Grant ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Scott Elmslie EDITOR Jo Stewart DESIGN Dallas Budde, Kieran Medici ADVERTISING Kerri Spillane PRINTER Immij ZOOS VICTORIA Tracey Borch, Ethan Jenkins, Luke Moulton, Amy Pearce Zoos 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 ACKNOWLEDGMENT – We acknowledge 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.
Amphibian Bushfire Recovery Centre
Cover: Elephant calves (Photograph: Jo Howell) Connect with us: Have you visited lately? Share your visit with us and be sure to use the hashtag #zoomember 11

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Member Photo Competition

Entries are now open for the 2024 Zoos Victoria Calendar. Send through your best animal photos taken at Healesville Sanctuary, Kyabram Fauna Park, Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo for the chance to have your image featured in next year’s Zoos Victoria Member Calendar. Head to the website below for further details, terms and conditions and to submit your photos. Entries close on 31 May 2023. Best of luck!

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easier, you can now download your membership cards to your Apple or Google Wallet.

Click here to log into your My Zoo Dashboard from your mobile device then select the button to download.


HATCHES & matches

The zoos are places for love, new life and, sadly, sometimes loss. Check out the latest animal happenings at your zoos.



Nine of the rarest animals in the world took their first tiny footsteps at Werribee Open Range Zoo, marking a significant milestone in threatened species conservation. The Critically Endangered Plains-wanderer chicks were born weighing between just four to five grams at the Zoo’s threatened species facility.


A pair of Red-bellied Pademelons have popped up at Healesville Sanctuary. The macropods were once found across south-east Australia; however, their wild population is now restricted to Tasmania. Catch a glimpse during your next visit


The Victorian Pookila Conservation Breeding and Reintroduction Program is celebrating success with six Pookila pups from two litters born at Moonlit Sanctuary and two Pookila pups born at Melbourne Zoo, with anticipation of further litters during the breeding season.


Kyabram Fauna Park welcomed five meerkats from Sydney Zoo last year. Native to southern Africa, these friendly, intelligent little animals live together in family groups, creating a network of burrows underground to keep themselves safe from predators in the wild.


Love is in the air with the exciting arrival of partners for the resident Black-and-white Colobus and White-cheeked Gibbon. Gibbon Cahn, 7, travelled from Perth Zoo to partner with Li-Lian, 15, while Colobus Kyoda, 13, arrived from Adelaide’s Monarto Zoo as a mate for Kipenzi, 10.


Vale Lameroo the Eclectus Parrot. Joining Melbourne Zoo as a five-monthold chick, Lameroo inspired young students to develop a connection with wildlife across our zoo classrooms. He had a big personality and will be sadly missed by keepers, vets, members, visitors and all that knew him.


Hit the road to KYABRAM

Have you made the road trip to Kyabram Fauna Park yet?

We have compiled our top tips to make the most of your visit to the thriving town in northern Victoria.

Drive north from Melbourne and in about 2.5 hours you’ll reach Kyabram Fauna Park – the newest addition to the Zoos Victoria family, located on Yorta Yorta Country. Home to more than 600 resident animals (including Tasmanian Devils, Alpine Dingoes and free-roaming kangaroos, emus and wallabies), the Park’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers has welcomed visitors from near and far since it opened in 1976. Now, a new chapter is unfolding for the Park after 45 years of operation.

“Over the past four decades, our staff, volunteers and community have developed a strong commitment to conservation and education. Now, as part of the Zoos Victoria family, we are excited to see those efforts increase as more members and visitors come to enjoy the Park for the same reasons we love it,” says Lachlan Gordon, Director of Kyabram Fauna Park.

Creative connections

The relaxed pace of this agricultural region, famed for its dairy producers and fruit orchards, is a far cry from the buzz of the city. While driving around the town, you may notice a local landmark that has a special connection to Kyabram Fauna Park. In March 2021, artist Jimmy Dvate (real name James Beattie) spent four weeks completing a striking mural on a large water tank commissioned by Goulburn Valley Water.

Known for creating large-scale, colourful artworks featuring Australia’s flora and fauna, Jimmy says that he visited Kyabram Fauna Park for inspiration when planning the mural.

“Lachlan and the staff at Kyabram Fauna Park were a huge help. The Park was also a great resource for me to take reference photos, some of which I was able to use in the final mural,  such as the Pink Cockatoo and the Bush Stone-curlew,” explains Jimmy.

Having run successful breeding programs for the Endangered Bush Stone-curlew and Vulnerable Malleefowl, Kyabram Fauna Park has a long history of supporting wildlife conservation. The Park is set to play a bigger role in the fight against wildlife extinction.

“Kyabram Fauna Park will help Zoos Victoria to expand our critical wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and conservation work in northern Victoria, utilising the expertise and experience of the Kyabram Fauna Park team. We are now the largest zoo-based conservation organisation in the Southern Hemisphere, and together we can make a tangible difference for the species we share the earth with,” says Dr Jenny Gray, Zoos Victoria CEO.

Touring the region

There’s plenty to see and do in Kyabram, including a volunteer-run vintage cinema that screens movies and exhibitions by local artists at the Kyabram Town Hall Gallery. Allan Street is where to head to refuel, with cute cafes and a classic country bakery offering vanilla slices, lamingtons and pies.

Thirty minutes’ drive away, the regional centre of Shepparton is a popular stop, with the Shepparton Art Museum’s

Kangaroo Island kangaroos love to say “hello”

strong collection of contemporary Australian art and impressive ceramics gallery attracting visitors from Melbourne and beyond.

However, wildlife is the true drawcard for most members and visitors, with a range of native bird species delighting birders. Apart from the feathery friends who call the Kyabram Fauna Park aviaries home (including cockatoos, finches, owls and more) the Park also has a restored wetlands area that attracts a diverse range of birdlife.

Lachlan is keen to welcome more members and visitors from Melbourne to Kyabram, whether they come up for the day or make a weekend of it.

“We can’t wait to see more Zoos Victoria members visit Kyabram Fauna Park and enjoy the unique wildlife that call this place home,” says Lachlan. ZN

See the sights

Kyabram water tank art

Created by Melbourne mural artist Jimmy Dvate, the striking water tank art has added a splash of colour to Kyabram’s landscape. Have fun guessing the names of the native species depicted on the water tank.

Echuca paddlesteamers

Cruise down the mighty Murray River aboard an historic paddlesteamer while admiring the incredible redgums that line the riverbanks.

Shepparton Art Museum

Designed by acclaimed architects, the new Shepparton Art Museum building is home to more than 4000 works of art by creators from near and far.


Book an exclusive encounter with a cassowary, koala or dingo to learn more about these unique creatures. Members receive 10% off all animal encounters and 15% discount at the retail store. Click here

Apart from visiting Kyabram Fauna Park, there’s plenty to see and do in the region. Be sure to put these three local landmarks on your sightseeing list.
2 3
Melbourne fyi
KYABRAM 2.5-hrs drive from
YOUR VISIT Kyabram Fauna Park is a 2.5-hour drive from Melbourne and is open 10–5pm every day. Bring along your member card for seamless entry.
Yorta Yorta country


Zoos Victoria’s Coffee for Wildlife helps to support farmers, protect forests and save wildlife in key coffee-growing regions.

The next time you have a coffee break at the Zoo, you will also be supporting the preservation of rainforests in Sumatra, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea.

Coffee for Wildlife (launched in October last year) is a new initiative by Zoos Victoria in partnership with Genovese Coffee to support sustainable coffee growers producing beans grown in harmony with forests.

“Melbourne is Australia’s coffee-drinking capital,” says Ash, Zoos Victoria’s Senior Manager — Community Conservation Campaigns.

Melburnians drink around 31 million cups of coffee every week. If we’re going to be drinking that amount of coffee, we need to think about where it’s coming from.”

Unfortunately, deforestation represents a serious threat to highly biodiverse tropical rainforests. The good news is that there’s a way to enjoy your morning macchiato without contributing to further environmental degradation. Coffee for Wildlife supports sustainable farming practices by using shade-grown coffee sourced through partnerships with three key organisations: The Orang Utan Coffee Project in Sumatra, Community

WORDS Jo Stewart
“Melburnians drink around 31 million cups of coffee every week. If we’re going to be drinking that amount of coffee, we need to think about where it’s coming from”
Senior Manager — Community Conservation Campaigns

Conservation of Wild Coffee and Natural Forest Management Project in Ethiopia and the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea.

“These projects use shade-grown coffee, which is coffee that’s grown how it’s meant to be grown — beneath the canopy of established trees,” Ash says.

So why is shade-grown coffee a better choice? Much of the coffee currently cultivated around the world is grown in the sun, on cleared land where forests once stood. That’s because sun-grown coffee grows quickly and produces a higher yield, although it’s also a bean that is of lower quality.

“Shade-grown coffee matures in the shade under the forest canopy and this high-quality coffee is much more sustainable,” says Ash, who adds that all Coffee for Wildlife products are certified carbon neutral.

Supporting sustainable growers

Often the best way to support wildlife is to ensure that farmers are supported. Each of the three projects empowers coffee growers to preserve forests by paying them a fair fee for producing sustainably grown coffee and providing infrastructure and training to build skills and capacity. This helps to protect the habitat of species including Sumatran Orangutans, Vervet Monkeys in Ethiopia and Matschie’s Tree-kangaroos in Papua New Guinea.

Stop by any of our zoo cafes for a cup, or purchase a bag for home at our retail shops.
Coffee on drying beds in Ethiopia
An Ethiopian coffee ceremony



Coffee for Wildlife products are packaged in bags made from certified at-home compostable materials.

“Apart from supporting farmers to grow coffee in a genuinely sustainable way, the Sumatran project directs a portion of proceeds to the Orang Utan Coffee Project, which cares for orangutans that have been injured and can’t return to the wild,” says Ash.

Illegal farming is threatening Sumatra’s precious Leuser ecosystem, which is the last place on earth where tigers, rhinoceros, elephants and orangutans all roam in the wild together. Converting environmentally unsustainable plantations to Orang Utan Coffee Project plantations means farmers are paid well for their product while operating to organic standards and strict criteria that end harmful environmental practices.

In Papua New Guinea, people farming shade-grown coffee in the remote YUS Conservation Area on the Huon Peninsula pledge a portion of their land as habitat for wildlife — with 187,000 acres (i.e. the size of about 37,000 MCGs) secured and protected so far.

As the birthplace of Arabica coffee, southwest Ethiopia is the only place in the world where this prized bean grows native and wild. The Ethiopian Government granted that only the local people of this region can benefit from the forest’s resources (coffee, honey and spices), which means maintaining a healthy and thriving forest is equally important for both people and wildlife in this area.

“The Ethiopian suppliers produce minimal-intervention coffee beneath the forest canopy. They also harvest wild coffee, which grows with no intervention from people whatsoever,” says Ash.

Don’t compost at home?

Bring your empty Coffee for Wildlife bags back to the Zoo, pop them in the dedicated collection boxes in the Retail Shops and we’ll compost them for you. All the compost created will go back into Melbourne Zoo’s gardens.

Know your roasts

To bring Coffee for Wildlife to Melburnians, Zoos Victoria has partnered with Genovese Coffee, a family-owned Australian business based in Melbourne.

Three single-origin varieties from each of the respective regions are on offer, as well as the ‘Survival Blend’, which combines each of these. Buy a bag for home and taste your way through each of the origins.

Each has a unique flavour profile. You’ll notice pear, mandarin, almond and honey notes in the Papua New Guinean roast; hints of sweet spice and cacao nibs in the Sumatran roast; and a chocolatey aroma with a fresh herbal taste in the Ethiopian roast. If you’re drinking a cup of coffee at one of our three zoos, you’ll be drinking the Survival blend — a crowd-pleaser characterised by bergamot and blueberry notes with a light body and mild acidity.

The online shop (shop.zoo.org.au) also stocks bags and a subscription service facilitated by Genovese will deliver your favourite blends straight to homes and workplaces across Australia – if you can’t get to the zoo shop in person.

“We know Melburnians love good coffee that’s grown sustainably. By creating a market for these products, we’re supporting growers to continue looking after forests and the precious wildlife that lives there,” says Ash. ZN


Buy Coffee for Wildlife from any of our Zoo Shops at Healesville Sanctuary, Kyabram Fauna Park, Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo or online by Clicking here


Trumpeting Trio at Melbourne Zoo

The Asian Elephant herd at Melbourne Zoo has recently expanded with three precious new arrivals.

In the quiet hours of the morning, on Wednesday 16 November 2022, the pitter patter of not so little feet were taking their first steps at the Trail of the Elephants. Dokkoon had given birth to Aiyara, the first of three Endangered Asian Elephant calves expected at Melbourne Zoo. After nine days of his half-sister capturing the attention and hearts of everyone, Roi-Yim was born on Friday 25 November 2022 to first-time mother Mali. The dynamic duo became accustomed to their new surrounds, while we patiently waited for the trumpeting trio to be complete. In the new year, we welcomed the safe arrival of Num-Oi’s calf, Kati, on 1 January at 11.25pm.

“We are relieved the whole herd is doing so well. This has been years of planning and to witness the interactions and behaviours of a multi-generational herd is a real privilege,” says Erin, Trail of the Elephants Life Sciences Manager. Elephants are matriarchal, meaning the females live in a herd together while the males roam in small bachelor groups in the wild. This natural behaviour is replicated at Melbourne Zoo with our multi-generational, cohesive female herd. All elephants will play a part in the development of these calves. This naturally creates herd cohesion and provides crucial social and life skill development. While the calves primarily feed from their mothers, they will spend lots


Before the Asian Elephant herd make their move to Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2024, a great deal of preparation is going on behind the scenes. The Trail of the Elephant team are working on purpose-built crates and conducting lots of training to ensure the move is a positive and comfortable experience for all the elephants.

WORDS Ethan Jenkins


Kati [pronounced: car-tee] means “Coconut Milk”, an ingredient commonly used in Thai cooking

Mother: Num-Oi

Father: Luk Chai

Born: Sunday 1 January 2023

Time of birth: 11:25pm

Approximate birth weight: 130kg

Approximate height (to head): 93cm

Approximate length (minus tail): 94cm

Kati takes after both her parents and is a very tall girl with long legs. Kati is the newest addition, and her arrival to mother Num-Oi completed our herd. From early after her birth it was apparent that Kati was a very capable calf and had amazing motor skills – she has been wowing us with her development from day one!

of time learning from their aunties, grandmother and other elephants.

The matriarch of the elephant herd, Mek Kepah, is 50 years old this year and is currently the oldest elephant in Australia. Her role is to help guide the herd. “Although she hasn’t had the chance to breed, it is great to watch her grow into the role of being an excellent grandmother,” says Erin.

The design of Melbourne Zoo’s elephant habitats ensures the growing herd can exercise and explore natural behaviours by interacting with different substrates and landscapes. These environments meet the herd’s biological and physical requirements through creation of opportunities for swimming, proactive skincare and various complex ways of foraging for food. The design features of Werribee Open Range Zoo’s future facilities will extend and deepen these opportunities.

Aiyara [pronounced: eye-are-a], means “Elephant”, a symbol of loyalty, friendliness, good fortune and happiness

Mother: Dokkoon

Father: Luk Chai

Born: Wednesday 16 November 2022

Time of birth: 1:03am

Approximate birth weight: 120kg

Approximate height (to head): 92cm

Approximate length (minus tail): 91cm


Aiyara is robust in both personality and build, and is proving to be a real water baby. Aiyara is the first born of our calves and has an adventurous spirit. She is boisterous by nature and is often seen doing her best to encourage her siblings to engage in play.

Roi-Yim [pronounced: roy-yim], means “Smile”

Mother: Mali

Father: Luk Chai

Born: Friday 25 November 2022

Time of birth: 11:17pm

Approximate birth weight: 110kg

Approximate height (to head): 90cm

Approximate length (minus tail): 90cm

Roi-Yim has the smallest build of the three calves, but has a very long tail.The second born and the only male of the trio, he prefers to stay close to his mother, Mali. However, he is gaining confidence by the day and is just starting to engage in gentle play with his sisters.

The growing herd will move to an expanded 21-hectare habitat at Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2024, thanks to an $88 million grant from the Victorian Government. The open range habitat at Werribee Open Range Zoo’s Elephant Trail will feature a sandpit habitat and deep-water pools. The communal sleeping area has been designed to enable natural herd births in the future. Five outer habitats will retain and build upon existing vegetation and significant trees, while two dedicated overpass bridges will allow the herd to pass over visitor walking trails from the sand habitat to the outer habitats.

The move will be integral to the long-term plan for Asian Elephant conservation as their wild population continues to decline. Once widespread throughout Asia, the species is currently classified as Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation

of Nature’s Red List. Habitat loss (due to unsustainable palm oil production), poaching and human–elephant conflict are key factors threating their population in the wild.

As a part of a regional breeding program for Endangered Asian Elephants, the births mark an important milestone at Melbourne Zoo. The program’s objective is to support the conservation of elephants. Zoos Victoria has an international partnership with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), which met rigorous selection criteria based on the organisation’s ability to demonstrate measurable outcomes for humans and wildlife alike. FFI is embarking on extensive work in the field to help better understand humanelephant conflict, safeguarding the future of Asian Elephants in the wild.

Zoos Victoria also supports two projects in Sumatra through the


International Elephant Project, including a wildlife ambulance and veterinary training at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh and Asian Elephant conservation in Way Kambas National Park, home to 180 wild Sumatran Elephants. This elephant population is threatened by illegal logging, poaching, land cultivation, cattle grazing and human-elephant conflict. Zoos Victoria has provided funding to help replace GPS collars in the Elephant Response Units to aid in patrolling and human-elephant conflict mitigation strategies. Now, more than ever, the Endangered Asian Elephant needs our support. ZN



Get your zoo fix at home with our cute new children’s tees and accessories

Range available online and in store at Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo

Bamboo Plate or Tumbler

Members Price Cotton Children’s Tees

our trumpeting trio, Aiyara, Roi-Yim and Kati, at Melbourne Zoo’s Trail of the Elephants and learn more about how you can protect the Endangered Asian Elephants in the wild. fyi
$27.20ea RRP
Members Price
available in children’s sizes 2, 4 & 6


Melbourne Zoo

Celebrating its 160th anniversary in 2022, Melbourne Zoo has a long history under its belt and at the helm is newly appointed Director, Sheri Horiszny. After working in advertising and marketing for more than a decade, Sheri wanted to pursue a career that would “make a positive difference for the planet” and has since worked in animal and executive management for more than 20 years.

WORDS Lisa Marie Corso

Atrip to the zoo is always filled with excitement and anticipation. Which animals will you visit first?

Will the lions be lazing in the sun or feasting in front of me? What animals will I spy on the savannah?

Behind the scenes, there’s a team of clever humans working hard to ensure your visit to the zoo is memorable and the conservation work your visits support is impactful. Let us introduce you to the four Directors leading our zoo properties and take a look inside their worlds.

Hailing from the USA, Sheri first met Dr Jenny Gray at a conservation conference in San Francisco. She was representing the Giraffe Conservation Alliance program she had started in September 2014. Now in her role as Director of Melbourne Zoo, Sheri says it’s her intention to “support our wonderful staff at Melbourne Zoo so that they can provide the best possible care for the animals and our environment, while creating exceptional experiences for our members and visitors”.

Her highlights for 2023 include seeing the elephant calves and the newly renovated Kangaroo space in the Australian Bush habitat.

It takes a wealth of experience and know-how to run a zoo. Get to know the incredible people tasked with leading your favourite zoos.

Healesville Sanctuary

Known for its diversity of Australian wildlife, Healesville Sanctuary is led by Director Ross Williamson.

Before joining the organisation in 2017, Ross worked in conservation reserve management with Parks Victoria, as well as the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for 30 years as a biologist, park ranger and manager.

When you meet Ross his passion for Australian wildlife conservation shines. “This spans from the Fighting Extinction work on threatened species to connecting our members and visitors with our resident wildlife, and inspiring them to act to protect them – it’s what keeps me going,” he explains.

Ross and the Healesville Sanctuary team always put the welfare of the wildlife in their care first and are striving to be the world’s best wildlife sanctuary.

“Our care is on display everywhere, but particularly at the Australian Wildlife Health Centre where we care for not only our residents, but more than 2,000 injured or sick native animals every year,” he explains.

To find out more about Kyabram Fauna Park seepage6

Kyabram Fauna Park

Kyabram Fauna Park is led by Director Lachlan Gordon, who has worked as a wildlife keeper from Cairns to Ballarat. Lachlan was formerly General Manager of Kyabram Fauna Park before becoming Director in October 2022.

A true wildlife advocate, Lachlan is deeply proud of the work his team achieves and the safe space the park offers for the animals in its care.

“Along with looking after the 600 resident animals that call the park home, we have also created habitats to provide food and shelter for free-ranging wildlife,” he says. “This has included the planting of more than 7,000 trees and plants, which has seen the return of 35 species of birds to the local area.”

One of the things Lachlan enjoys most about Kyabram Fauna Park is that it’s a bird-lovers’ paradise. “Twitchers can explore our aviaries in awe,” he says. “They can climb the observation tower and watch birdlife across the wetlands or take up a position from one of the viewing hides.”

Werribee Open Range Zoo

Meanwhile, the Director of Werribee Open Range Zoo, Dr Mark Pilgrim began his career as a birdkeeper at England’s Chester Zoo in 1988. “It was never intended to be a career; I just thought it would be fun,” he says. However, he loved the role so much he worked there for decades and eventually became CEO.

Dr Pilgrim has also worked extensively as an animal conservationist and has a lifelong fascination with elephants and rhinos. He was appointed the first chair of the UK Government/British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Elephant Welfare Group and has coordinated the Eastern Black Rhino European Association of Zoos and Aquariums Ex situ Programme (EEPs) for more than 15 years.

Dr Pilgrim and team are currently working hard on the Werribee Open Range Zoo Expansion, which includes expanded facilities and landscapes for priority conservation species, and the new home for Melbourne Zoo’s elephant herd, a 21-hectare habitat to roam across.

A fun animal fact he’s learned on the job? “How fussy koalas are about their food.

We produce super fresh, high-quality browse for them from our plantation and they often turn their noses up at it.”

What is browse?

Browse is a general term for all growth of trees and shrubs including branches, bark, leaves and buds. This is used as food for a variety of the animals in our care.



Help preserve Australia’s precious biodiversity by creating a wildlife-friendly haven at home.

ustralia is home to more than one million species of plants and animals, many of which don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

Maintaining this incredible biodiversity is so important, because every creature, plant and microorganism is part of the puzzle that supports life on Earth. Pollinators alone are a huge puzzle piece, with many of our crops relying on their efforts for production.

One thing we can all do to protect native flora and fauna is create wildlife-friendly gardens, explains Craig, Horticulture and Grounds Manager at Werribee Open Range Zoo. “In urban areas especially, where habitat fragmentation has occurred, it’s a real way to increase wildlife, so they can share our places of work and also where we live.”

When designing your garden, Craig suggests first researching which species of fauna and flora are native to your area. Local councils are often a good source of information. Next, consult your local nursery to discover which native plant species will not only attract wildlife, but also thrive in your garden, depending on your soil type and local weather conditions.

Urbanisation has taken away various habitats that are a core component to our ecosystem. Using plants to create a multilayered garden is important for re-establishing biodiversity and re-connecting wildlife corridors. Grasslands provide critical habitat and a food source for many seedeating birds, moths, butterflies and other insects. Groundcovers are vital for protecting the life of our soil. Understory shrubs provide food and shelter for smaller birds.

WORDS Beth Wallace Flowering plants such as grevillea will attract birds and pollinators A water source is a critical component of any garden Rocks, logs, tree hollows and nesting boxes offer places of refuge for all sorts of backyard critters

Did you know?

Australia is home to approximately 2,000 native bee species. Many native bees are solitary, raising their young in burrows in the ground or in tiny timber hollows.

Trees – like eucalypt, wattle and tea varieties – are wonderful additions to any garden, as they provide food and shelter for a range of wildlife.

If you’re looking to entice pollinators – those hardworking bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, birds and bats that fertilise plants by moving pollen from flower to flower – Craig recommends plenty of flowering plants, such as grevillea, bottlebrush and asters. “Try to get a diversity of plants, so that flowers are available all year round. This maintains food supply for wildlife throughout the year,” he explains.

Wildlife not only look for food sources but shelter, too. This means offering rocks, logs, tree hollows or nesting boxes to create places of refuge. Again, draw on your research into local native animals and what they like, Craig says. “Microbats like to roost among loose bark on trees, so just leaving that there for them, or keeping fallen logs and nesting hollows. All those sorts of things help”. Another critical component of any garden is a water source. This could be a birdbath, water feature or even a pond, which is ideal for frogs, insect


A worm farm or compost bin reduces landfill waste and is great for the health of your garden soil, explains Craig. “Use it as a soil conditioner and fertiliser to improve the health and water retention of your soil.”

development or small native fish (nature’s very own mosquito controllers). Safety also means keeping pets away from wildlife and avoiding herbicides and pesticides. Rather than using products that could be harmful to plants and wildlife, Craig suggests making your garden less attractive to pests. “This might mean growing plants that aren’t susceptible to pests, or encouraging beneficial insects – such as ladybirds and lacewings –that will control their populations,” he says. “You can also use sawdust or copper wire to control snails and slugs around your flowers or vegetables.”

Instead of trying to fight weeds, use ground-covering plants or mulch to prevent weed seeds from germinating in the first place. Alternatively, Craig proposes to reframe your attitude towards weeds altogether. “For a horticulturalist, a weed is just a plant out of place,” he says. “But if it’s promoting wildlife in your backyard and isn’t a garden escape potential [won’t spread to neighbouring properties], don’t pull it out, because it might be supporting the local environment.” ZN


Have a balcony, courtyard or small outdoor space? Not to worry: these pollinator-friendly plants are perfect for pots.

• Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos)

• Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium)

• Cut-leaf Daisy (Brachyscome multifida)

• Sticky Everlasting (Xerochrysum viscosum)

• Bluebells (Wahlenbergia stricta or communis)

• Bulbine Lily (Bulbine bulbosa)


From gardening books to bee houses, the Zoos Victoria shop stocks plenty of things to help you build a wildlife-friendly garden. To visit the online shop

Click here

Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos) Bulbine Lily (Bulbine Bulbosa)

A day in the life

~ OF AN ~


Collaboration, observation and communication are daily tasks for Animal Welfare Research Officer Amy-Rose.

WORDS Alegria Alano

Amy-Rose’s creative upbringing made her choice of career at the Zoo was quite unexpected. “I assumed I would be a rock star. I have a musician and painter as parents and I followed suit until I realised I had a passion for animals,” Amy-Rose says.

Her new interest took her back to university to study zoology. She then volunteered with Zoos Victoria, which led to her current role as an Animal Welfare Research Officer. “Petstock partnered with Zoos Victoria and generously funded this role. We’re working with them to promote animal welfare, not just in a zoo setting, but also for domestic animals,” she says.

What is animal welfare?

Animal welfare science goes beyond physical health and aims for thriving animals. This includes providing habitats with opportunities for choice and enriching experiences for the animals.

“Zoos Victoria prides itself on being a justified, humane and effective zoo-based conservation organisation. Core to this is providing for the wellbeing of animals,” she explains. Learning how to provide this is where research comes into play. “To achieve our goals, we need to assess the effectiveness of our actions and how they support the animals in our care,” says Amy-Rose.


Checking in

Amy-Rose is part of a team of five in the Animal Welfare Life Sciences Team; however, projects often start with the keepers. Each morning, the team will meet to check in and update each other on projects and address the keepers’ questions. “It’s important for us to think about how we can work on a project together so that the animal gets the most benefit. Part of this is figuring out who has the best suited skills and the time, because time management is very important in our team. Then we plan the best way forward,” she says.

A watchful eye

‘Ethology’ is the study of animal behaviour, and this is another daily task for Amy-Rose. “Whether that’s watching Hutan the Sumatran Tiger react to a new enrichment opportunity, or watching butterflies choose what to land on… observing and capturing data about animals to try to understand how they perceive their world is a big part of my role,” she explains. This data helps keepers understand behaviour patterns, determine unusual

behaviour and discover what an animal’s preferences are. This can influence decisions like providing their favourite food or structures for exercise. “Data and science are big at Zoos Victoria, because our decision-making is always evidence based. Guessing can only get you so far, so when you really understand the animals, you can do better for them,” says Amy-Rose.

Knowledge sharing

Another big part of each day is sharing the data that Amy-Rose collects. “Depending on the scope of a project, we may decide to write a published paper to share findings with other zoos, or write a report or email to update keepers,” she says.

This knowledge-sharing can be ongoing, as is the case with Amy-Rose’s elephant research that began in 2018. “Each round is about 30 days of data collection... at the end of each research period, I write a report of findings for the elephant team,” she explains.

Some observations include interactions between herd members, how they use their environment, feeding habits and

what enrichment they enjoy. The keepers then change their work routines and management plans to fit with the data. “We’ve just finished the third version of that research almost four years later and it’s contributing to the improvement of how the keepers run their day and provide for the animals,” Amy-Rose says.

Animal welfare science is constantly evolving and changing, so continuous improvement is important. Change is also what Amy-Rose loves about her work: “The best part of my role is the variety. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to work with such a wide range of species. Trying to understand animals is rewarding, challenging and ever-changing. It’s incredible.” ZN

with organisations that support your zoo. Choose Petstock for all your pet’s needs. Visit Petstock here
Japura the coati is Amy-Rose’s favourite resident because of her charismatic personality. Like all coatis, she can use her flexible nose to dig for food.



Zoos Victoria’s new Amphibian Bushfire Recovery Centre is fighting to save three rare native frog species.

WORDS Susan Horsburgh

Australia’s frogs had been under attack for years – from climate change, land clearing and pollution, introduced species like trout, feral cats, foxes and hoof stock, not to mention the deadly chytrid fungus, which has destroyed amphibians across the globe – but then came the Black Summer bushfires of 2019–20. Fires razed more than 1.5 million hectares of Victorian bushland and choked streams with ash, decimating already endangered frog populations.

Now at crisis point, the amphibians have been thrown a lifeline thanks to the Australian Government Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitats, and


the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund. A state-of-the-art frog-breeding facility has been built at Melbourne Zoo to save three rare species: the Spotted Tree Frog, Watson’s Tree Frog and Southern Giant Burrowing Frog. “Impacted by the fires, it’s even more crucial now that we set up recovery programs,” says Zoos Victoria Amphibian Specialist, Damian.

Constructing the centre

To design the breeding terrariums for the Amphibian Bushfire Recovery Centre, Damian has spent many years studying these frogs in their natural habitats to understand what they require to stimulate breeding behaviours. “All the information we absorb out in the wild we bring back to the Zoo and simulate on a smaller scale, so the frogs feel comfortable in their microhabitats,” he explains.

“We have full control of the climate in these new facilities and rely on other frog biologists who collect important data, which informs us what temperatures the frogs require to thrive. We create seasonal changes which helps stimulate reproduction. It’s important that we put these sub-alpine species through a wintering brumation period. In spring, we increase the temperatures and create rain events via a sprinkler system, which sparks the males into calling. Once they’ve attracted a female, they’ll then go into amplexus [the mating embrace] and hopefully produce a healthy clutch of eggs.”

The new facilities are bio-secure to protect these sensitive species from pathogens. The centre features airlocks (where the keepers don gloves, overalls and gumboots) and the hygienic

enclosures have everything frogs need to thrive. “We grow live plants and have installed an automated irrigation system that keeps their home clean by flushing away any biowaste through a perforated mesh elevated floor, providing good drainage” explains Damian.

Lighting is also important. Large windows provide the frogs with natural photoperiods. Artificial lighting is also connected to a photocell to mimic the seasonal daylight hours. As frogs require UV lighting to sustain healthy development, programmable LED lights are used to stimulate the growth of plants, which provide moist retreats for the frogs.

Boosting genetic diversity

The goal is to ensure genetic diversity and to selectively breed frogs that are resistant to chytrid fungus. As these insurance captive populations grow, the frogs will be released back into their wild habitats to help boost populations.


More than 150 Southern Giant Burrowing Frogs, successfully reared from tadpoles at the Zoo, have already moved into the new centre. This is the first time this species has been established in a zoo. Big enough to cover the palm of your hand, the stocky, slow-moving frog sounds like an owl hooting. According to Damian, the charismatic species creates burrows near streams and broadcasts its calls through a chimney of sorts.

Pulling the frogs back from the brink of extinction, he says, is vital:

“We’re lucky to have a unique diversity of frogs in Victoria and listening to the soundscape of frogs calling – it would be devastating to lose that,” says Damian. “Frogs keep our water systems in check and are an important biological indicator of environmental health. They’re also a crucial part of our ecosystem and food chain. Without frogs, many other species would suffer and die off.”

Saving nature’s gems

For Damian – who’s been fascinated by amphibians since he rescued tadpoles from his family’s swimming pool as a child – the new breeding program is a thrilling development for conservation.

The Spotted Tree Frog is one of Zoo’s Victoria’s Fighting Extinction species and a new challenge for the team to breed in captivity. “Coming across them at night, is like spotting a tiny bright-green gem sitting on a leaf,” Damian says. “I’ve had a fair bit to do with them in the wild, so breeding them in captivity so that we can help save the remaining wild populations … this challenge has got me very excited.” ZN

“Frogs keep our water systems in check and are an important biological indicator of environmental health”
Damian Amphibian Specialist, Zoos Victoria
Stormwater ends up in waterways, so think twice about what you pour down the drain. That means no pollutants, such as pesticides, fertilisers,
detergents, paints and microplastics: “They will affect the tadpoles that rely on clean water,” explains Damian, “as well as vegetation that tadpoles feed on, and invertebrates that help keep our waterways healthy.”

Bin there,

done that

After removing rubbish from her local beach, Zoos Victoria Grants Manager, Jodie has taken a personal approach to waste reduction. Her aim? To reduce her waste that goes to landfill by only putting her bin out once a year.

It was during monthly clean-up sessions with the volunteers of BeachPatrol that Jodie began to question her own impact on the environment.

“We’d pick up objects that were obviously littered, but there were also things like straws, plastic bags and other household waste that had either blown in or washed up on the beach,” says Jodie. “It made me think about what happens to my waste once it gets picked up, I mean it doesn’t just disappear – it has to go somewhere.”

There’s waste everywhere we look: on our beaches, in our parks, on the streets, in the ocean. It affects

ecosystems, habitats and wildlife. Landfill releases methane into the air, contributing to climate heating. Floating in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a conglomeration of plastics spread over 1.6 million square kilometres. For some perspective, that’s almost seven times the size of Victoria.

Jodie decided to commit to limiting as much waste as she could, with the aim of only putting her landfill bin out once every 12 months. That meant trying to avoid packaging as much as she could.

“I looked for places that let you use your own containers,” she says.

“I started buying fresh fruit and

vegetables from farmers’ markets and the greengrocer, and going to bulk stores like The Source.”

Jodie began talking to store and restaurant owners around her neighbourhood. Her local butcher lets her bring containers in. She’s found places that deliver takeaway in home compostable containers, and others that let her bring her own dishes to pick it up.

“It’s probably saved some money and I no longer buy things I don’t need… But the thing I love most is getting to know people I buy from.”
Jodie Zoos Victoria
WORDS Carrie Hutchinson

“I take a bento box to the sushi place near work,” explains Jodie. “They put the sushi in, I put the lid on and we’re off. I’ve also got soy sauce at my desk, so I’m eliminating the use of those little soy sauce fish containers.”

It takes time to make the switches, and Jodie still finds some of her favourite foods almost impossible to purchase waste free.

“Cheese, chocolate and chips are my biggest issues,” she says. “Cheese is almost impossible to buy without packaging. I’ve been thinking about going to either my local deli or market to see if I can get someone to cut pieces and put them in my containers.”

When she began her challenge, Jodie didn’t tell many people. Then she heard a conversation on the radio during lockdown about how people were struggling to get their bins emptied.

“I rang Sammy J [on ABC Melbourne’s breakfast show] and told him I wasn’t too worried because I hadn’t needed to put my bin out for a year and probably wouldn’t need to put it out for a couple more months,” she explains. “Some of my friends heard me on the radio.


Here are Jodie’s top tips for minimising what you throw away…

Do an audit of what you’re consuming by collecting your waste for a week or two, then think about how you could reduce that waste.

Explore places to shop (like bulk food stores) where the produce isn’t packaged.

They started asking me about it, so I began sharing some of the things I’m doing on Facebook and Instagram. It’s great when you can lead by example and inspire other people to make a difference.”

She’s also discovered benefits beyond helping the environment. “It’s probably saved some money and I no longer buy things I don’t need,” Jodie says. “Buying fresh fruit and vegetables also means I’m more motivated to make things from scratch, and I get enjoyment from that. But the thing I love most is getting to know people I buy from.

“At the local farmers’ market, I buy produce from the same people all the time. You strike up a relationship. Sometimes I get some extra apples or they give me something to sample. When you know the producers, you know where your food comes from. You can be confident it’s low in food miles and you’re eating seasonally, which means it is generally cheaper.”

As for only putting the bin out every 12 months? Jodie did better than that. In fact, it was 15 months before it had to be emptied. Proof that, as individuals, we can make a difference.

Always have a clean reusable coffee cup, drink bottle, cutlery set and fabric shopping bags in your bag or car.

Get a Bokashi bin, start a worm farm or try composting and turn food waste into an amazing resource for your garden. See if there is a ShareWaste community nearby – your waste could be valuable to others.

Visit the Zoo Shop to purchase reusable sandwich bags, stainlesssteel straws, coffee cups and more. Visit the Zoo Shop here
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