breeding and conservation
Featherdale Wildlife Park plays a vital role in many conservation efforts throughout the country. Providing access for the study of key species by universities and other zoological institutions, the Park makes a valuable contribution to the many challenges facing wildlife.
Recent studies have been carried out on Dingoes, Bush Stone Curlews, Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies and both the Eastern and Spotted-tailed Quoll, all of which face serious challenges to their range or to their ongoing viability as a species. At Featherdale, one study involving the Tiger Quoll included scat research to identify individual Quoll DNA which will assist in unlocking the mystery of wild latrine sites - a Quoll’s very own bush telegraph.
Further Tiger Quoll research used Rhodamine B testing to check for colour markers which will aid in establishing a more targeted aerial baiting programme for feral animal control.
Featherdale also cooperates with government and non-government wildlife organisations in long term management programmes for some of our endangered species. Featherdale Keepers have worked with the Nature Conservation Working Group of the Murray Catchment Area to release endangered Bush Stone Curlews back into the wild. These shy, ground-dwelling birds rely on camouflage to remain hidden by day, and feed at night. Their numbers have been adversely affected due to predation from feral species and land clearing.
Featherdale works in partnership with many wildlife conservation groups. It is one of the only Wildlife Parks in New South Wales to be endorsed by the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF). Our support not only includes access to animals for study but also tree-planting ceremonies and providing animals for the AKF ‘Adopt a Koala’ Programme. The ‘Save the Bilby Fund’ also receives support for its campaign to raise awareness in New South Wales of the plight of the endangered Bilby. The Bilby’s numbers in Eastern Australia are thought to be as few as 600. Featherdale regularly promotes educational programmes such as ‘Endangered Species Week’, ‘National Bilby Day’ and ‘Save the Koala Month’ to name just a few.
insurance for the future
Featherdale Wildlife Park has recently welcomed the arrival of two Devils....Tasmanian Devils, that is. The 2 year old brothers, Saxon and Vandal recently arrived from Peel Zoo in Western Australia and are part of the Tasmanian Devil Insurance Population. This vital programme has been developed to build a sustainable captive population of Devils, free from the fatal Devil Facial Tumour Disease which has decimated the Tasmanian wild population in the past two decades.
DNA samples were taken before the boys departed for their new home at Featherdale. The samples have been sent to the University of Sydney for testing and will provide valuable information on familial lineage and may assist with future breeding programs. Whilst the two boys are not presently required for breeding, they will be important ambassadors for building awareness and educating visitors on the threat facing this endangered species.
Devil Facial Tumour Disease or DFTD, is a fatal disease first recognised in wild Devils during the 1990’s. Since discovery of the disease, sightings of wild Devils have decreased by approximately 70 percent. The Cancer is transmitted like a contagious disease and is characterised by large facial tumours around the face and neck. The Disease makes it increasingly difficult to compete for and, digest food, with most Devils dying within a few short months of tumours first appearing.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), in conjunction with the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), are managing the Devil Breeding Programme and are working towards maintaining the captive insurance population of 550 Devils. This strategy may one day assist in re-establishing wild populations in Tasmania.
managed captive breeding programs
Captive breeding plays a vital role in fostering knowledge and the protection of future populations of endangered species and Featherdale Wildlife Park is a major contributor to these aims. The Quoll breeding programme has been so successful that the Park now has a Management role in the National Programme to assist these important animals. In conjunction with students from Monash University in Victoria, our aim is to sustain a captive population to assist with this endangered species. Featherdale Quolls were DNA tested to ensure the limited gene pool was utilised efficiently. As a result from this testing, animals were exchanged amongst Programme members to create viable, genetically diverse pairs.