Zoos SA

February 7 is the first ever Reverse the Red Day!

We can all work towards reversing the red for the planet’s species…

The goal of Reverse the Red is simple but ambitious: we need to stop pushing our environment to the brink and relegating more species into worse and worse status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Established in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species. When you visit Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park you’ll see the conservation status of a species on our signage and hear our keepers mention it when they deliver their talks.

The IUCN classification status ranges from of Least Concern to Critically Endangered and Extinct in the Wild.

While the majority of species at Zoos SA are threatened with extinction, there is hope that by working together we can reverse this threat. As a conservation charity we, along with many other like-minded organisations around the world, are working tirelessly to ‘reverse the red’ through aassessment planning and action.

To present the positive outcomes, the Red List assessment process has been expanded to show species recovery and conservation impact, known as the Green Status of Species.

The IUCN Green Status of Species complements the Red List by providing a tool for assessing the recovery of species’ populations and measuring their conservation success. Hence Reverse the Red!

Everyone has a role to play in protecting species – whether we’re government agencies, NGOs, zoos, aquaria, botanical gardens, multinational agreements, communities, or individuals

What is Zoos SA doing to Reverse the Red?

Plains Wanderer

Plains Wanderers, classified as endangered by the IUCN, are a small, ground-dwelling bird that is particularly vulnerable to threats such as foxes and feral cats, and native grassland habitat loss. They’re a critical part of the ecosystem because their presence or absence is an indicator of the health of their native habitat.

Keepers at Monarto Safari Park have worked with other regional zoos to breed and release Plains Wanderers into their native habitat.

The ongoing breeding and release-to-the-wild research efforts will continue to be evaluated. The plan is to use the developed methodologies to support an effective captive–wild translocation strategy for the Plains Wanderer to boost numbers and re-establish populations in their former natural range. measures.


The black-flanked rock-wallaby, known as ‘warru’ in Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara languages, is one of South Australia’s most endangered mammals. Significant declines of warru in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands from the early 20th century onwards led to a fragmented population estimated at only 200 individuals by 2007. This triggered the formation of the Warru Recovery Program, led by a steering committee made up of Indigenous Traditional Owners, community members, and conservation organisations including Zoos SA. Warru are an important part of Anangu culture, and conservation of warru in the APY Lands has seen a strong collaboration between research, science, and culture. Traditional ecological knowledge has played a central role in informing conservation actions for the species.

Since 2007 Zoos SA has been involved in a range of in situ and ex situ projects for warru recovery, including captive-breeding of animals for reintroduction to the wild, population monitoring, wild translocation, and project management.

Marna Banggara

Zoos SA, along with partners, has taken a lead in the translocation of Woylie as part of the Marna Banggara rewilding project. Marna Banggara meaning ‘healthy/prosperous country’ in the language of the Narungga People of the Yorke Peninsula, is the biggest rewilding project in Australia.

The first native species to be reintroduced is the Brush-tailed Bettong, a critically endangered marsupial that has been steadily declining in the wild, and has been locally extinct on mainland South Australia for more than a century.

The final release of bettongs is scheduled for mid-2023, to bolster the numbers and genetic diversity of the existing population. The population will be monitored and supplemented where necessary. The long-term goal of Marna Banggara is to reintroduce further key native species to restore natural ecological processes and diversity.

Rewilding is predicted to provide a flow-on benefit to the economy of the Yorke Peninsula through the growth of ecotourism.

Kangaroo Island Dunnart

The Kangaroo Island Dunnart is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. Little is known about this elusive marsupial, which prior to the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires had an estimated population of between 300 and 500 individuals. More than 95 per cent of its known habitat was burnt during the Black Summer fires, which led to fears for the species’ persistence. Zoos South Australia (Zoos SA) is working alongside the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board (KILB) and other partners in the Kangaroo Island Dunnart Recovery Team to study the behaviour, habitat use, and reproductive biology of the Kangaroo Island Dunnart, with the aim of further understanding how best to conserve and further reverse the red for this little marsupial.

Future plans include further radio-tracking of KI Dunnarts in 2023, and continued support of on-ground management strategies implemented by our partners. In consultation with the KI Dunnart Recovery Team, Zoos SA are developing a framework for the potential collection of KI Dunnarts for ex situ husbandry research, which will be used to inform decision making around future conservation strategies, such as insurance populations or breeding programs.

Greater Stick-nest Rat

The Greater Stick-nest Rat was extinct on the mainland from the 1930s but has persisted in islands off South Australia and Western Australia. Captive breeding for the recovery of this species started in 1985 with animals on-site at Monarto Safari Park since 1986. More recently, Monarto Safari Park was involved in the breeding and translocation of the captive-bred animals into a protected national park in New South Wales.

Conservation partners will continue to monitor the Greater Stick-nest Rat population and to add to this population to bolster genetics and the numbers. Zoos SA has also assisted ceramic artist Jane Bamford (and Dr Kath Tuft) who is creating a ceramic burrow system and nesting dome system that could potentially save the rats in dry and hot conditions where they might struggle to survive when faced with extreme temperatures and heatwaves.

Credit: AWC DPIE

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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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