A new, purpose-built, facility to aid the recovery of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot opened today at Werribee Open Range Zoo.
With less than 50 Orange-bellied Parrots estimated to remain in the wild, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio officially opened the new facility which is designed to give a big boost to the captive population, allowing birds to build much needed fitness prior to release in the wild.
The facility is made up of two aviaries and includes a walk through exhibit for zoo visitors, in addition to a large, fitness aviary that will provide captive-bred birds with an opportunity to build up their physical fitness, flight, foraging and social skills prior to their release.
The Orange-bellied Parrot is one of three migratory parrot species. Each year, it makes a round trip from Tasmania to south-eastern Australia, a 1000km journey across Bass Strait covering some of the roughest ocean in the world.
In a first for Werribee Open Range Zoo, visitors will be able to see this critically endangered species up close in a special walk-through exhibit connected to free-flight aviary.
There are a number of challenges involved in the recovery of the Orange-bellied Parrot and with such a small population left, the birds’ survival depends on innovation and collaboration to save this iconic local species.
The first birds to use the fitness aviary are expected in 2017, with zoo visitors able to view the fitness regime of the parrots via a unique viewing hole.
The new facility at Werribee Open Range Zoo follows the Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s commitment in 2015 of over $100,000, in addition to funding from the National Landcare Program via the Corangamite CMA, to support Orange-bellied Parrot recovery effort.
This includes restoration of critical habitat and seasonal surveys along with volunteer support to monitor wild bird numbers.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio
“Orange-bellied Parrots are an incredible species and with less than 50 remaining in the wild, innovative facilities like this aviary are critically important to ensure their survival.”
“Once birds move into this new facility it will act as specialised parrot ‘gym’, preparing Orange-bellied Parrots for future release in the wild.”
“Saving the Orange-bellied Parrot is challenging work and it takes collaboration and innovation from a wide range partners and the community.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020