Monday, January 31, 2011

Taronga Zoo and Tasmanian Davil

Last year I was able to visit few attractive places in Australia. Our family visit to Sydney was also very memorable as we were able to visit places like Sydney opera house, Harbor Bridge, Darling Harbor, and importantly Taronga Zoo ( It was very interesting to see how they market the wildlife and conservation. The Bird show and seal show at Taronga zoo are still in my mind. This reminded me of my experience at Jersey Zoo (anyway highly different from all other zoos I visited) and other conservation oriented zoos in UK which I got the opportunity to visit during my stay in UK in 1999-2000. They all have similar goals and very much concern about the animal well being within the zoo environment. Many staff members in Zoos in our region have a long way to go in terms of ex-situ conservation when compared to the zoos in developed countries.

Among the animals seen at Taronga zoo, situation of Tasmanian Devil is critical. It is famous for its spine-chilling screeches. It is an Australian icon and is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. According to zoo website, early Europeans trapped and killed Tasmanian Devils for over 100 years, believing that they would eat their farm animals. Devil numbers decreased until 1941 when they became legally protected. But it is facing a new threat; Devil Facial Tumor Disease. This contagious cancer is spreading through devil populations in Tasmania and is threatening the species with extinction. Taronga Zoo has a special conservation programme for this unique species.

Asian elephants at both Taronga zoo and Melbourne zoo are the main attraction. Most of the public are exited about new arrivals of cubs and they show them in TV news. Most of my friends asked us to visit the elephants when we were going to the zoo. But I had to explain that we are lucky enough to see them free in the wild in Sri Lanka. But I am worried about the on going elephant-human conflict in Sri Lanka as it may lead our future generations to go to the zoo and see the elephants.

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