Zoos SA
Zoos SA is a non-government conservation charity, every visit, adoption, donation and ticket helps to save species from extinction.

Jacob McKenzie, Warru Ranger with APY Land Management, holding a wild joey during trapping at Maku Valley, Kalka, in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. Zoos SA works closely with the local Aṉangu community and the Warru Recovery Team.

Zoos SA Reconciliation Action Plan

Respect. Connect. Engage and Involve.

Our Vision for reconciliation is to highlight and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ deep and ongoing connection to Country: the land, waterways, sea and sky and all that inhabit them.

We will connect and work collaboratively with Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri peoples as the traditional custodians of the Country our sites are located on. We will also connect and engage with the traditional custodians of the lands across Australia on which we learn, care for animals and conduct conservation work.

We look forward to building relationships and using our reach to share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, engaging with our audiences to promote and increase understanding, and influence our partners to join us in reconciliation actions.

See the full RAP here

Our partnerships

We engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations through several important conservation initiatives which include:

  • The Zoos SA Aboriginal Learning on Country Program (ALoC) – provides conservation and land management training and employment for Aboriginal trainees.
  • Ongoing relationships with a number of Aboriginal organisations including the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi Team and Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation.
  • In situ Conservation programs – Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Warru conservation; Marna Banggara rewilding on the Yorke Peninsula, on the land of the Narungga people; many projects focussed on the conservation of species and habitats that are culturally important to Aboriginal peoples across Australia.
Aboriginal Learning on Country trainees meeting Ruby the Warru, Monarto Safari Park.

Current activities

An internal working group made up of staff across all areas of the organisation support a range of initiatives and activities including:

  • Cultural awareness training
  • Acknowledgement of Country during meetings and tours, and on printed and digital materials
  • NAIDOC Week celebrations at Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park
  • An annual National Reconciliation Week event at Monarto Safari Park presented by the ALoC Team
  • Adelaide Zoo Nature Theatre staff working with Kaurna and Narungga man Jack Buckskin on incorporating a Kaurna acknowledgement and perspectives into presentations
  • Development of a Ngarrindjeri seasonal calendar mural at Indaba and several films of Leon Dodd and trainees discussing Ngarrindjeri seasons and bush foods
  • Re-development of the bush food production garden at Wild Africa and ongoing maintenance of the Ngeragi Ya:yun bush food garden at Indaba Bush Camp by the ALoC Team at Monarto Safari Park

Aboriginal Learning on Country

The Aboriginal Learning on Country (ALoC) team have cared for Country, protecting key conservation and habitat areas at Monarto Safari Park since 2010.

More than 11 years later, the ALoC program has evolved but remained true to its original purpose: to provide local Aboriginal people with employment and training opportunities in conservation and land management.

The benefits of the program extend beyond the personal aspirations and achievements of over 26 trainees, who have successfully completed various certificates and gone on to work in conservation and other fields. Zoos SA as an organisation has been greatly influenced by the trainees, with staff, volunteers and visitors being able to learn about Ngarrindjeri and other Aboriginal cultures.

Our RAP looks ahead to build on this successful program and continue to foster relationships, encourage mutual understanding and work together to connect people with nature and country.

Aboriginal Learning on Country trainees in the bush food garden, Monarto Safari Park.

Tarutharu (the Skink)
Light Creatures Adelaide Zoo

In 2021, Adelaide Zoo presented the immersive event; Light Creatures in collaboration with Illuminate Adelaide and SA Power Networks. The four week night-time event welcomed thousands of visitors and shone a light on conservation and shared the story of the Kaurna skink, tarutharu.

Zoos SA, Illuminate Adelaide and lantern installation partners A Blanck Canvas wanted to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Adelaide Zoo site, involving the Kaurna community to bring to life a Kaurna creation story and highlight the significance of Tarutharu, otherwise known as the common skink.

We engaged with Jack Buckskin, a proud Kaurna and Narungga man with a passion for passing on his knowledge and language to future generations of Kaurna people (and others). Jack spent time speaking to Elders and gathering the information and story for this project.

We worked with Jack on how to best translate the story into artwork through a collaboration with contemporary Aboriginal visual artist Elizabeth Close. Elizabeth Yanyi Close is an Anangu woman from the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language groups in Central Australia. Elizabeth brought the story of the skink to life through her designs which were handpainted onto the lantern by A Blanck Canvas artists.

Tarutharu will continue to feature as a major installation at Adelaide Zoo as part of the annual Illuminate Adelaide events and will potentially tour nationally and internationally with the A Blanck Canvas production team.

Aboriginal artwork used throughout this webpage by Jordan Lovegrove. Jordan Lovegrove is a Ngarrindjeri web designer, artist and illustrator.

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging. We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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