ROCKHAMPTON Zoo is believed to be the nation’s first local-government-owned facility to receive accreditation through the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australia.
Mayor Brad Carter yesterday announced Rockhampton Zoo had been granted accreditation for five years.
He said the accreditation opened up many possibilities for the zoo, which is part way through a six-year $6.3 million upgrade.
The council is developing a master plan for the zoo, to be completed this year.
Considerations include whether entry should remain free with ratepayers continuing to pick up the annual $800,000 running costs.
About 200,000 people visit the zoo and adjoining botanic gardens each year.
The dilemma for council is to what extent it makes the most of the new accreditation, which opens the door for exciting programs such as breeding projects, without further burdening ratepayers.
Yesterday’s announcement was good news for the zoo, which only a few months ago found itself in the headlines after bird lice were reportedly a problem because of the high number of migratory birds that had settled in the nearby Murray Lagoons.
A report is expected to go before the council in the next fortnight on managing the bird problem.
Cr Carter said the accreditation was a milestone in the zoo’s progress to becoming one of the best in the country.
“We know our zoo is operated to world-class standards, however it is wonderful to receive formal recognition through the Zoo and Aquarium Association by way of full accreditation,” Cr Carter said.
“More than 90 zoos and aquariums across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are linked through the Zoo and Aquarium Association and are part of a network for wildlife research, conservation and education.
“Accreditation status will give the Rockhampton Zoo a greater capacity for breeding programs and offer access to more animals.
“Accreditation will also put the zoo in a better position to make a significant contribution to animal conservation.”
The council’s Sport and Recreation Committee chairwoman Cherie Rutherford said the zoo had undergone major change.
“Already we have seen the opening of the new state-of-the-art chimpanzee enclosure, cassowary enclosure and various back-of-house improvements including a quarantine area for new animals,” Cr Rutherford said.
“As an accredited zoo the association has certified that all of our animals are appropriately cared for and the zoo contributes to public understanding of, and empathy with, their natural state.
“The Botanic Gardens and Rockhampton Zoo are unique assets for our community dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.”
Some interesting facts about Rockhampton Zoo:
- The zoo houses about 120 animals including freshwater crocs, koalas and chimpanzees
- The zoo has seven staff
- It costs about $800,000 a year to run
- Each year about 200,000 people visit the zoo and adjoining botanic gardens
- The zoo is open every day of the year between 8.30am and 4.30pm and entry is free
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