2019 Aus Greyhounds taking us to the zoo
Greyhounds taking us to the Zoo Tomorrow
I don’t think I would be far wrong in saying that the late and much loved Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s ethos in life was to love, understand and respect the animals with whom we share the world and by extension to take action to protect animals in the wild by stopping the human behaviour that causes them extreme harm and the real threat of extinction.
The purpose of his zoo is to educate the general public on the beautiful life and behaviour of animals and raise funds from the business to enable national parks to be patrolled and poaching discouraged and to literally move whole villages away from the habitat of especially tigers. Australia Zoo works with Wildlife Warriors by funding the training for Tiger Protection and Conservation Units combating poaching.
The Zoo also works in partnership with Fauna and Flora International in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra on tiger conservation. And a little of what we spent there is helping protect crocodiles, tigers, wombats (all cuddle), elephants (Two are in quarantine awaiting their journey to the Zoo), giraffes (Rob was in 7th Heaven) and cheetahs. In the state of the art Wildlife hospital native and the resident animals receive the best veterinary care.
Despite a family fallout between Steve’s father and the rest of the family Steve’s widow, Terri and his daughter Bindi and son Robert are still working hard in the family business and on their own projects. Possums are safe in Aussie unlike in NZ.
Bindi has had a broadcasting career for many years, educating people of all ages about animals. She has also produced fitness and exercise DVDs, appeared in TV series with her brother Robert, about animals of course and was the lead character, Kirra Cooper in the 2010 ‘Free Willy’ film. More recently this multi-talented lass won the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ TV Contest in 2015 with her dance partner Derek Hough at the age of 17 years. Her Dad would have been so proud.
Bindi has recently become engaged to a young American, Chandler, he is a professional wakeboarder from Florida who passed Robert’s test when he happily fed the crocodiles. He is now part of the business and shares the environmental ethos towards conservation having loved to watch the TV series about the zoo since he was a boy.
Robert has dedicated himself to the art of animal photography and the products made from his work are sold in the shop. He says photography is his greatest passion, so it might turn out to be Chandler who most closely follows in Steve’s shoes.
The staff the team have recruited are very performance minded and their co-stars are the snakes, birds, reptiles, koalas and tigers. If they are not in performances then the keepers walk them in amongst the visitors who can see them up close, get amazing photos and ask all the questions that come so easily when not under pressure. We saw a wombat and cheetah taking their keeper for a walk.
The shows are designed to explain the reason behind the animal behaviour shown in the performance and to allay the many false stories that are told and believed about their degree of ferocity. There was no sign of stress, except when the low flying cockatoos nearly parted my hair as they flew diametrically across the Crocoseum.
We had a gentle wander around the otter enclosure and the through the dimly lit snake arcade. Steve’s presence comes through in the narrative on the description boards, “crikey”, “whopper” and “beauty” are reminders of his endearing and reckless personality to me.
The Rainforest Aviary was a delight, full with healthy plants and bushes you could almost hear growing and the abundance of birds sneaking around the undergrowth and yet fearless and at close range, could have been how it was two hundred years ago before the mass destruction and extinction began.
I can imagine the little girl wearing the pink cap in the picture will always remember the big, white eyed tiger coming right up to her. He was born at the zoo and despite numerous operations he will always be blinded by double cataracts. He finds his way around his enclosure no problem and looks quite happy with life. We listened to a brief talk on tigers before heading to the upstairs restaurant cleverly designed like a supermarket so that there were numerous checkouts and no need for queues. We munched as the crocs in the enclosures below languished in their pools.