Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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With some in body paint and others in crisply pressed uniforms I joined 85 of my Taronga staff mates for a memorable night, marching in Sydney’s  32nd annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

With glitter, a six-meter long tiger float, the catchy tune of “Eye of the Tiger’ and an atmosphere buzz like no other, we couldn’t resist the urge to dance with all the other float entrants. We made the most of this amazing opportunity and the excitement in the martialling area. For many of the staff it was quite an eye opener into an area of the community they had never really experienced.

As 2010 is Year of the Tiger, we chose tigers as our theme to coincide with Taronga’s  ‘Don’t Palm Us Off’ campaign to help reduce the impact of Palm Oil plantations on wildlife in Asia.

As well as celebrating the diversity of our staff, visitors and community we are also celebrating biodiversity as 2010 is UN Year of Biodiversity. Sumatran Tiger numbers are falling as their habitat is cleared for unsustainable farming of palm oil, which is found in one in four food products on our supermarket shelves.

brendan Mardi gras 250

As we set off on the march and turned right onto Oxford Street with our giant glowing tigress leading the way. The energy and excitement from the crowd was deafening.  Everyone was having such an amazing time and the crowd support as we marched past was overwhelming. There were spotlights and camera flashes going off everywhere as well as whistles and confetti drifting on the breeze.

Turning right at Taylor Square the crowd just got bigger and louder, and then as we passed the Bobby Goldsmith stand the Tiger Float and our staff were treated to a running commentary from two dazzling drag queens who also said how well Zoo Keepers could dance.

By the time we got to the end of the parade all the staff, including me were exhausted; it was as if we had run a marathon with added glitz and glam of course. But it was so worth it. The night was a great success all round. Happy Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras Participant

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