Regent Honeyeater study: Impact of zoo-based life experience, health indices and demographics on post-release fitness and survival

Taronga has played an important role in the Regent Honeyeater National Recovery Program since 1995 and the ‘breed for release’ component is now a critical component of the National Recovery Plan (2016).

The aim of the project is to identify trends in the relationship between zoo based experiences, health data and characteristics of post-release birds. The first trial release occurred in 2000 at Capertee, NSW, and there have been five subsequent releases in Chiltern-Mt. Pilot National Park, Victoria. In total, 295 birds were released back to the wild.

Releases occur in two stages to enable the review and assessment of bird safety. All releases involve intensive monitoring of released birds by a large group of volunteers, and the post-release monitoring team provides regular updates on the number of Regent Honeyeaters sighted, made up of released and wild birds. The overarching aim is to better understand how husbandry practices influence post-release success, and ultimately breed birds which are fitter release candidates.