Zoos SA

Reversing the red with a dash of spots and feathers

Double the celebration on international day of conservation optimism

7 February is the second Reverse the Red Day and Zoos SA is delighted to announce that there is cause for a double celebration with successful outcomes for two native conservation projects – one with wings and one with fins!

Monarto Safari Park has welcomed egg-cellent news for one of Australia’s rarest birds with the arrival of two endangered Plains-wanderer chicks.

Natives Keeper Gemma Asser said the tiny chicks make a big impact to conservation of the species.

“It’s estimated there are only 250 to 1,000 Plains-wanderers remaining in the wild, making each chick an important step forward in saving the species,” said Gemma.

Similar to Emus and Ostriches, Plains-wanderer males raise the chicks and Gemma said first time dad, Luke, is doing a fantastic job.

“Plains-wanderers are a Precocial species (meaning the chicks can feed themselves and move around after they hatch). Dad’s job is to protect them, which he’s doing a great job at. When he protects them he tucks them under his wings.”

Plains-wanderers are the only surviving species of the Pedionomidae family, meaning there is no other bird like them in the world.

This is the third season of the breeding program at Monarto Safari Park, which will see the eventual reintroduction of captive-bred birds into wild populations.

The arrival of the chicks demonstrates Zoos SA is making a real difference in saving Plains-wanderers, working together with Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Zoos Victoria, and Featherdale Wildlife Park, as well as State Government departments in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

Meanwhile, across the park, something fishy has been happening at the waterhole.

Fifty Southern Purple-spotted Gudgeons have been released into a waterhole, bringing Zoos SA one step closer to reintroducing the species to the Murray-Darling Basin, in collaboration with Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board and Nature Glenelg Trust.

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board’s Wetland Project Officer, Connor Gervais, said the waterhole at Monarto Safari Park is part of a network of Southern Purple-spotted Gudgeon breeding sites.

“Growing our sites where we can breed these fish and build up their numbers and genetic diversity in a safe, protected environment is fantastic so we can eventually start to reintroduce them to the wild.”

Zoos SA’s Conservation Ecologist, Paul Kotz, said it is exciting to be bringing the native species back into areas where they were originally found.

“Many small native fish species suffered during the millennium drought and the Southern Purple-spotted Gudgeons haven’t been seen in the Murray River in South Australia since then.

“Although they are a small fish, they are just as intrinsically valuable to the ecosystem as any other species and it’s rewarding to be making progress in returning this lesser known native fish to its native habitat,” said Paul.

The project is made possible with support from Zoos SA’s partner, SA Water, who filled the waterhole.

As a conservation charity, Zoos SA is committed to reversing the decline of species. Reverse the Red Day is an opportunity to inspire strategic action and optimism to ensure the survival of species and ecosystems.

“As of today, there are 44,000 species threatened with extinction and that is mainly due to human actions, however human actions can also help change that. So we need your help to be the first generation to stop biodiversity decline.

“Native species are important to me because Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world, and it’s not slowing down so we need to do something about it. I love being able to be part of breeding conservation programs to help these species in the wild and also help educate people about why they’re important,” finished Gemma.

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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