Taronga’s famous animals today got some special support from the cast of the Broadway musical, Wicked who put down their magic wands, rolled up their sleeves and helped the Zoo’s dedicated keepers.
The Zoo’s majestic animals cast a spell over Lucy Durack who plays ‘Glinda’ the Good Witch, Amanda Harrison, the Wicked Witch of the West and ‘Fiyero’, played by Rob Mills, who turned their talents to zoo keeping by assisting Taronga staff with a range of duties.
The wild schedule included giving the Zoo’s inquisitive Giraffe herd their morning feed. Eager for their carrot treats, the giraffe promptly slobbered all over the musical stars with their extraordinary long, blue tongues.
Activities continued at the Zoo’s Backyard to Bush exhibit where more than 20 talented cast members helped out in the farmyard which is bursting with Spring babies from tiny fluffy chicks to gangly goat kids.
With five extra pairs of trotters around, miniature pig parents, ‘Max’ and ‘Star’ approved of the extra help as they have just welcomed two female and three male piglets into the family stye. The youngsters are enjoying being out and about, playing in the mud and getting up to all kinds of mischief and are proving to be a lot of hard work for their parents.
Max and Star are miniature pigs crossed with wild boar giving them fantastic colours and hairy bodies. Both Max and Star are well trained pigs, able to sit, present their hooves for treatment and go for walks with the keepers. The Wicked stars helped create toys and puzzles for the pigs to satisfy these exceptionally intelligent animals.
Fittingly, ‘Elphaba’ the Wicked Witch of the West also had the opportunity to put her green thumb to good use in the Zoo farmyard, helping Taronga’s horticulturalists cultivate a bumper crop of .
The departure of the Wicked cast from the Land of Oz to Taronga Zoo was part of a series of Taronga Foundation activities which will include a fundraising call at the end of Wicked performances from the 27th October until 1 November, 2009 to support the Zoo’s Tasmanian Devil conservation work.
Australia’s iconic Tasmanian Devils are under threat from extinction due to a contagious cancer which causes fatal facial tumours. The species was recently listed as endangered with the wild population decreasing by 60 percent since the disease emerged in 1996. After getting the disease, devils generally do not live longer than six months.
Taronga is committed to the plight of the struggling native species and will be asking Wicked theatre audiences to help Save the Tasmanian Devil by giving generously at the end of the performances.