Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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The Taronga Conservation Society Australia Director, Cameron Kerr, today announced Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos are developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Mr Kerr said: “Taronga acknowledges the contribution that the local inhabitants  made in developing a strong connection and respect for Australian animals, the principles of sustainability and conservation.”

“This is the next logical development on the programs we already have in place including the award-winning Burbangana Zoo Awareness program and its sister program, Walanmarra at Taronga Western Plains Zoo to develop an RAP.”

“This will enable us to continue to build and enhance cultural appreciation among our staff and visitors.”

The TCSA Plan is scheduled to be in place in May 2012 following development by a working group of indigenous and non-indigenous staff who will consult with Zoo staff and others outside the Zoo with special expertise.

The Zoos also are actively involved in annual NAIDOC Week activities and operate aboriginal wildlife programs through their Education Centres and the Zoomobile Outreach program.

The Zoos have just employed  six Aboriginal discovery hosts in addition to three coordinators in the Burbangana and Walanmarra (make me strong now in Wiradjuri language) programs.

The Burbangana Program was one of just seven winners in the 2011 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards (ACVPA) announced on 25 October at Parliament House in Canberra. The awards consider 52 programs nationally.

Burbangana, which means ‘Take my hand and help me up’ works with young people 11-17 years old to increase the sense of belonging, connection to culture, trust and improved self esteem and achievement.”

Mr Kerr announced the RAP at Taronga’s newly refurbished Main Entrance Plaza which features sculptures by Aboriginal artists.  The Entrance’s official opening on Taronga 95th anniversary on October 07 began with a traditional smoking ceremony and a Welcome to Country by Aboriginal Elders.

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