Zoos SA plans wildlife recovery strategies

Environment Minister Sussan Ley has met with Zoos SA today paying tribute to the efforts of the Zoos veterinary team in treating animals burnt in the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island bushfires and discussing short and long-term wildlife recovery strategies.

The Zoos SA CE Elaine Bensted, veterinarian David McLelland and Veterinary hospital Manager Dianne Hakof were part of a team of Zoos SA staff rotating in and out of Kangaroo Island and Cudlee Creek in the face of horrific bushfires which took a devastating toll on native wildlife.

Minister Ley joined Federal Minister for Trade and Tourism Simon Birmingham and South Australian Minister for the Environment David Speirs for a briefing on Zoos SA’s critical role in the Morrison Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Restoration Strategy.

The Morrison Government is providing $1 million in funding for Zoos SA, as part of a critical network to support the recovery and protection of national wildlife populations including the already critically-endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnart.

“The dedication of these veterinarians and support staff during the fires has been just incredible,” Ms Ley said.

“Some of the stories are simply tragic but others underline the fact there is hope for recovery through a coordinated national effort and that is what the Morrison Government is supporting through the Threatened Species Commissioner, the Expert Panel and the many organisations who are working together to share ideas.

“There is a huge challenge ahead and it will require further funding.”

South Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water David Speirs said a coordinated approach across a wide range of stakeholders will be needed to ensure the long-term recovery of the natural environment impacted by bushfire.

“South Australia has an immense task ahead and Zoos SA will be working closely with state agencies and NGOs on the coordinated and strategic delivery of landscape scale recovery projects in bushfire impacted areas,” Mr Speirs said.

“We have seen some terrible things over the last months and I think we all accept that it will take some time to recover but the fact that we are all working together is a great step.”

Zoos SA CE, Elaine Bensted said the Morrison Government’s funding support will really enable the Zoo to step up its efforts while highlighting the important role that it plays in wildlife protection.

“Zoos SA already works alongside other zoos and agencies to boost insurance populations and to prevent the extinction of native animals such as the Orange-bellied parrot, Western swamp tortoises and Mallee Emu-wrens, with the wrens nearly wiped out in the 2014 bushfires,” Ms Bensted said

“What we already know from these conservation projects is that we need to approach wildlife and conservation recovery with careful planning and that we need to be looking to the future even as much as we need to treat animals today.”

Zoo veterinarian David McLelland said the most common injuries being treated are burned paws and singed fur.

“For many animals being presented the burn injuries and associated complications can be successfully treated but sadly many animals that are too severely affected also had been euthanised on welfare grounds” Mr McLelland said.

“Working alongside partner organisations including SAVEM, the RSPCA, the Army, and local veterinarians on the island, we are now daily treating at least 100 hospitalised and newly rescued animals, working for up to 12 hours each day.”

Zoos SA will continue to send teams of veterinary staff to Kangaroo Island for the foreseeable future.

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