Zoos develop plan to help wildlife recover from Australia's bushfire crisis

calendar iconPosted 17 January 2020

The Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) is mobilising its Wildlife Conservation Fund to support a large-scale, coordinated response of zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums to the drought and bushfire crisis.

The ZAA drought and bushfire response will focus on wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and bring together the significant expertise, resources, equipment and facilities across its network of accredited organisations to help native animals in the crisis affected areas.

With scientists now estimating more than one billion native animals affected by Australia's bushfire crisis nationally, the specialised expertise and facilities at ZAA-accredited zoos and wildlife parks will play a crucial role in the extensive short and long-term wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and recovery work ahead.

Many ZAA member zoos run wildlife hospitals, rescue and rehabilitation facilities, and those in or near fire affected areas are facing an overwhelming number of native animals requiring support now and well into the future.

“This crisis will set back biodiversity in the Australian landscape for decades and regeneration of the impacted habitats will take years,” said James Biggs, Manager Conservation and Australasian Species Management Program at ZAA.

“The welfare-accredited zoos and wildlife parks in our membership can help with long-term care, rehabilitation and recovery of these animals with a goal of safely returning them to a liveable habitat.

“More than that, ZAA and our members are experts in managing wildlife breeding programs so we can help to support or establish government endorsed breed-for-release activities to begin putting additional animals back into these habitats.

“With estimates of native animals affected now over one billion, this work may help to revive and sustain populations of wildlife in affected areas.”

The ZAA drought and bushfire response will use an approach that aims to execute three key phases:

Phase one - placing rescued native animals with appropriate facilities and expert care for treatment, ongoing rehabilitation and preparation to return to the wild.

Phase two – assessing the impacts on wildlife and habitat to understand where rehabilitation efforts are most needed.

Phase three – medium and long-term recovery efforts to return healthy animals to regenerated habitats and revive and sustain populations of wildlife in affected areas.

The public can help these wildlife rescue efforts by visiting zooaquarium.org.au to contribute to the ZAA Wildlife Conservation Fund (WCF). The funds raised will be allocated by the ZAA Wildlife Conservation Committee appropriately to focus on:

• Rescue and rehabilitation of drought and fire-affected Australian native wildlife with the specific end-goal of returning healthy rehabilitated animals back to the wild;

• Restoration, rehabilitation and ongoing care and resilience improvement of drought and fire-affected Australian native habitats;

• Science and research geared toward reassessing species status, habitat regeneration and other science-related projects;

• Activities that continue to support or help establish federal and/or state endorsed, targeted breed for release conservation activities.
Generous offers of support and financial assistance are pouring in from zoos and aquariums in Australia, New Zealand and globally. In addition, over $40,000 has been generously donated by the community so far.

As a peak body, the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) represents the collective voice of the zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries and wildlife parks across Australasia that operate to the highest standards.

As an association, ZAA brings its members together, facilitating shared knowledge and continuous improvement in conservation, welfare, biosecurity, science, research, social and community programs.


For more information contact:
Maigan Thompson, Communications Manager communications@zooaquarium.org.au