Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary… Not a Zoo!
The mission at this park is to protect native Tasmanian wildlife. Originally a refuge for locally injured animals, Bonorong was established 30 years ago by the couple who owned the farmland. Now an established tourist attraction and full-time business, the amazing wildlife programs and rescue service are funded entirely from entrance fees and donations.
Keepers at the sanctuary in Brighton (on the outskirts of Hobart) welcome the chance to educate people about the plight and survival of their beloved creatures. In-depth guided tours operate twice daily and take about 45 minutes. During the tour, visitors can hear the life story, take photos and pat some very cute animals.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary: Resident Wombat
Morris the wombat came to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary when his mother was killed on the roads. Delivered to a pet shop in New Norfolk by a good Samaritan and collected by the expert rescue team, he was brought to his new home in a vulnerable state. Nurtured at the sanctuary, thankfully he survived and is now 14 months old. Morris will live in his special enclosure until he reaches maturity at two years. Then, via another transition stage learning how to fend for himself in the wilderness, he will be released.
Currently the adorable baby loves to be cuddled and tickled on the tummy, and doesn’t mind all the attention from his fans. But according to Karl, the park’s co-manager, once he turns two, he hits the “nasty teenager” phase and needs to be set free. Considered a wild animal rather than a pet, Morris will be missed at Bonorong; but his carers will be happy to know their job has been done well.
At Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, you can learn more about Tasmanian Devil habitat. The park’s thirty-year devil breeding program is helping to prolong the survival of the endangered indigenous animal. The dwindling wild population is threatened by Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease, road-kill and attacks by domestic dogs. The Tasmanian Tiger was hunted to extinction, and it would be a shame to see the demise of another of Tassie’s fascinating creatures.
Apparently the Tasmanian Devils raised in captivity usually bond well with their keepers. But there’s no displays of affection during breeding season! They’re wild and angry little critters, and you would be well-advised to keep your hands OUT of the enclosure. This is not one of the patting variety. Prada was happy to get a bone to gnaw, but she was clearly not in a sharing mood.
Pat a Cute and Cuddly Koala
Koalas, however, have a completely different nature. Karl managed to expertly transfer the sleeping 17-year-old Banjo from a tree branch to his own chest, without any drama at all. Happy to cuddle in, the gorgeous old creature (koalas normally only survive to about the age of 12) was a huge hit with a passing parade of visitors.
Victorian Andrew Parker had never seen a real koala before; his smile says it all. Younger children were drawn to the area by the prospect of touching the furry animal. And one woman asked if he was vicious… I think she must have been confusing Banjo with Prada, the Tasmanian devil. Better to be safe than sorry, I guess!
Kangaroos, Wallabies and Food for Thought
The kangaroo paddock appeals to both international tourists and local Tasmanian families. As you wander through the gate, you realise just how many kangaroos and wallabies call the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary home.
Shake the bag of food (supplied free with your entrance fee), and you suddenly seem quite appealing to them too!
Aside from the formal tour and the Kanga Country enclosure, you can wander the sanctuary and see an emu parade, admire a sugar glider or inspect the cockatoo cages. A quiet rest at a picnic table allows you to observe a Cape Barren Goose roaming the grounds; or you can watch the keepers feed meal worms to a Mountain Dragon (lizard).
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary has great facilities and a souvenir shop with drinks and snacks… the human variety, even! It’s a very impressive place, proving private business can make a big environmental impact. And the best part about visiting? Knowing you’ve also made a contribution in the battle to protect these gorgeous animals. That… and patting Morris the wombat!
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is at 593 Briggs Road, Brighton. Entry costs $22 per adult ($20 concession) $9 per child (4-15yrs) or $57 per family (2 adults, 2 kids). Annual Pass $55 per adult; $24 per child; Wild Child Kids Club Membership $36. For more details phone (03) 6268 1184 or visit their website.
The writer was a guest of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.
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