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Taronga and RSPCA NSW announce new Rescue Facility to help save the platypus – the silent victims of bushfires

By RSPCA NSW & Taronga Conservation Society Australia
Posted: 13 Jun 2021
Taronga Platypus Annie. Image credit Rick Stevens
The iconic platypus is to be given much-needed help thanks to plans by the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and RSPCA NSW to build a new Platypus Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility.

The new purpose-built facility at Taronga Zoo Sydney is on the way, thanks to a $600,000 donation from RSPCA NSW and will serve as a refuge for platypus requiring urgent care and respite. The RSPCA NSW’s donation was made possible by the outpouring of public support during the Black Summer bushfires through RSPCA NSW’s emergency appeal.

The state-of-the-art facility will significantly increase Taronga’s capacity to undertake emergency translocations in response to drought, fire or other threatening processes and provide species specific rehabilitation facilities for animals treated through Taronga’s wildlife hospital. Once complete, the facility will be able to provide refuge and rehabilitation for 9 – 12 platypus at any one time, dependent on sex ratio.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia Chief Executive Officer Cameron Kerr said: “Platypus are silent victims of climate change. Shy and enigmatic, platypus are rarely seen which means their decline has been hidden from public view.

“Sadly, pressures on their environment mean that more and more of these animals are being brought to us for help.

“At Taronga, we refuse to watch as our icons vanish, and we must do all we can to protect the platypus. That’s why this new Platypus Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility is so important in our fight to protect our native wildlife.”

RSPCA NSW Chief Executive Officer Steve Coleman said: “We are pleased to be partnering with Taronga to ensure this unique mammal is kept from the brink of extinction.

“We are seeing more threats to our incredible, vibrant wildlife species, which means their wellbeing has never been more of a priority to us.

“All creatures great and small is the foundation upon which RSPCA NSW has been built. Their future is our future, which is why we must focus our rescue and conservation efforts now.”

Taronga is well-known as a leader in the care of platypus and during the Black Summer bushfires was called on to provide care and refuge for platypus from rescued drying waterways in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in the ACT. The Platypus were later released back into their habitat.

In March 2021, Taronga pledged to use its skills and expertise to save the Platypus and has previously committed to building a world-class refuge facility at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with funding from the NSW Government.

Taronga’s Senior Vet, Larry Vogelnest, said: “I am proud to have RSPCA NSW’s support to protect these incredible animals. Taronga Zoo has a long history of providing expert care for these notoriously complex animals. We are one of only two institutions which has successfully bred platypus in recent decades.

“This specialist facility will give us the right tools and environment so that we can use our knowledge to provide treatment and rehabilitation for platypus,” said Vogelnest.

Construction of the new facility will commence later this year and is expected to be completed in 2022.

Taronga is a not-for-profit organisation with an absolute commitment to conservation and securing a shared future for wildlife and people. Those looking to support Taronga’s ongoing work to help save the platypus can now adopt a platypus.

 

RSPCA NSW is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals and promoting animal welfare. The organisation is establishing a wildlife rehabilitation facility located in the Blue Mountains in order to support native wildlife in urgent need.

Taronga Platypus Annie. Image credit Rick Stevens
Rescue Platypus Morundah arrives at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital
Platypus McKenzie at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Photo credit Chris Wheeler
PlatypusMcKenzie at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Photo credit Chris Wheeler
 
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