The Platypus is a uniquely Australian species, one of only three egg-laying mammals. Traditional New South Wales names for the Platypus include "mallangong" and "tambreet". The oldest known Platypus fossil dates to 110 million years ago. Today the Platypus is extinct in South Australia, and in the eastern states there is cause for concern about their population densities. The Platypus is protected in all waters along its range, however faces challenges including rivers drying up, waters being overfished, changes to ecosystem dynamics from the introduction of foreign fish species, and accidental deaths by drowning in Opera house yabby traps.
Taronga is working with The University of New South Wales (UNSW) on a study to assess the impact of river fragmentation on the health of Platypus populations. The research will lead to a deeper understanding of threats to Platypus in the wild and to help guide conservation initiatives at a national level. Taronga is committed to improving the knowledge of existing Platypus populations, distribution and abundance within those populations and threatening processes that may impact the Platypus, a significant component of our legacy strategy for this species.
Platypus also face a significant threat from Opera house traps, a particular style of yabby trap. Opera house traps or homemade equivalents were responsible for around 15% of all platypus deaths reported to the Australian Platypus Conservancy from 1980 to 2009 where the cause of death could be reliably assigned. Taronga is committed to educating guests about the dangers of these traps and supporting alternative traps that are safe for Platypus.