Population numbers for the numbat, western swamp tortoise and dibbler are set to rise thanks to a recent ‘baby boom’ at Perth Zoo.
This new generation of endangered and critically endangered native icons is being raised behind the scenes at Perth Zoo as part of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction’s Biodiversity and Conservation Science program.
This season, 67 critically endangered western swamp tortoises have hatched in the Zoo’s specialised breeding facility. Once matured, these tortoises will be released into safe Western Australian wild habitat to support fragile populations.
Thirteen small numbat joeys have been recorded in pouches and burrows. Perth Zoo remains the only zoological institution in the world to breed numbats, and since 1993 more than 283 have been bred and released into the wild.
Staff also complete regular pouch checks with the nine breeding dibblers – four individuals are boasting a rare, full pouch with each individual carrying eight joeys.
Plans for a wild release are currently in progress for all three species, in preparation for when the newborns have matured.
The breeding program works to safeguard some of WA’s most vulnerable native species, bringing them back from the brink of extinction.
More than 5,236 Perth Zoo-bred animals from 11 different species have been released back into the wild to bolster populations.
Perth Zoo science staff work with conservation managers in DBCA and with other partners such as the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and interstate organisations to release zoo-born animals into safe wild habitat.
As stated by Environment Minister Reece Whitby:
“This a really outstanding result for conservation efforts in our State.
“This native baby boom is certainly one to be celebrated. With many native species facing threats in the wild, each individual born makes a significant impact on the future of the species.
“I’d like to extend my thanks and congratulations to all the scientists and animal carers at Perth Zoo and DBCA who work to conserve our iconic native animals.
“It’s still very early days in the lives of these native newborns, but I look forward to the coming months when experts are able to release them into safe wild habitats.”