Visitors this Easter school holidays will be amongst the first to welcome the Zoo’s three inquisitive Bilbies during Sydney Water Zoo Month at Taronga.
The male Bilbies have just moved into the Zoo’s Australian Nightlife exhibit. They are exploring their purpose-built, semi-arid exhibit giving Zoo visitors the chance to learn about these shy, rare nocturnal marsupials to help focus attention on native wildlife at Easter instead of their introduced competitor, the rabbit.
Taronga Zoo’s Nightlife Exhibit Keeper, Paul Davies, said: “Although these critters share some striking similarities with the Easter bunny, they are clinging to life in the wild in some tiny isolated pockets of Australia like the Tanami Desert. About the same size as the rabbit, they have a superbly beautiful silky grey coat and distinctive set of long ears which act like cooling towers, radiating excess heat out and away from their bodies.”
Sadly, unlike the rabbit which has reached plague proportions in some areas of our country, this native species is endangered with as few as 600 Bilbies remaining in the wild. The Bilby was once found throughout Australia but now they are extinct in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. We hope that they will help us educate visitors about native marsupials and the effects that bushland destruction and attacks by feral animals and domestic pets can have on many small native animals.”
In special activity feeds during the day, Zoo Keepers will give the Bilbies lots of crickets and meal worms so the visitors can see them searching for food and burrowing, a favourite pastime of the tunnel-dwelling marsupials. The Bilbies have also started going for walks with the keepers. “During the daily walks we’re slowly giving visitors the chance to meet these endangered animals up close,” said Paul. “The Bilbies enjoy the experience so much that they have begun lining up at the doorway for their stroll.”
Visitors wanting a close encounter with the Bilbies can book a Taronga Wild Australian Experience tour which is led by the people that know the animals best, their dedicated keepers. Bookings can be made by phoning 9978 4782.
Taronga’s QBE Free Flight Bird Show also continues to soar these school holidays with Ripley the Barking Owl making her show debut. The young owl is thrilling audiences of all ages by flying only centimetres above the heads of Zoo visitors as she swoops between her trainers at the open amphitheatre. The Zoo’s Bird Show can be seen at 12:00pm and 3:00pm daily.
Visitors can take the opportunity to see the Energy Australia Seal Show. The educational show introduces visitors to Taronga’s graceful seals as they show their skills including catching fish, climbing and diving. The enthusiastic seals demonstrate just how deadly marine debris can be to marine animals and the importance of making sustainable seafood choices to safeguard a future for marine wildlife.
Zoo visitors can also check the progress of Luk Chai, Australia’s first elephant calf, born last year. Now eight months old, the boisterous young male tips the scales over 350 kilograms and is often best seen in the lower paddock of Wild Asia. Luk Chai is making the most of the waterfall and moats characteristically following it up with a nice long mud bath. Just like any growing child he doesn’t stay clean for long.
Zoo visitors can support Taronga’s Bilbies, elephant herd, birds and seals by becoming Zoo Parent sponsors which contributes to the cost of food and veterinary care. A Zoo Parent sponsorship includes an adoption certificate, information and regular updates about the animals and Zoo activities. For more information phone the Zoo Parent hotline on 1300 369 116 or visit www.taronga.org.au
During Sydney Water Month visitors take a Water Journey, collecting a free pen and water activity sheet from the Information Centre before getting answers to questions from four different exhibits to win a prize. On the Zoo’s Concert lawns, Wild Aussies, will be presenting a free fun wildlife show twice daily from 2-19 April called Water-world Adventure introducing characters representing unique and endangered animals like the Corroboree Frog and Great White Shark.
The Zoo is open 9.00am to 5.00pm every day including Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.