Over 750 rescued, exotic, native animals and reptiles — The Australia Zoo’s story began way back in 1970 when Bob and Lyn Irwin decided to start a wildlife sanctuary. From the very beginning, Australia Zoo’s main aim was to promote conservation through education. When Bob and Lyn retired, they left the management of the facility to their son Steve and his wife Terri, who renamed the park Australia Zoo.
Steve and Terri Irwin were quick to follow in Steve’s parents’ footsteps, including the establishment of the Australia Zoo Endangered Species Unit and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Unit.
The Endangered Species Unit was established to develop and implement breeding and management programs for endangered species, not only from Australia, but from around the world. The zoo has seen the first-ever births of a rare canopy goanna, the crested iguana and the bilby (see cute picture below – I can see this guy in a story about eavesdropping ;)).
Although Steve achieved worldwide fame from the television series The Crocodile Hunter, he also had a controversial way of interacting with wild animals for entertainment. But there is no doubt that since the Australia Zoo began, its aim has remained constant, to promote: “Conservation through exciting Education.”
Steve was tragically killed by a stingray in 2004, but many of you will know of his young daughter’s continued contribution to animal conservation. Bindi, now 12, was the presenter of a 26-part Emmy- award winning wildlife documentary kids show called Bindi the Jungle Girl, a production of the Discovery Kids television network.
Creative wriitng is Bindi’s favourite school subject and she has also co-created a series of early chapter books starring herself, her mum, her brother and the Australia Zoo.
Book 1. Trouble at the Zoo by Chris Kunz Bindi’s birthday party at the zoo is going to be big event, butt when a pampered ten-year-old boy decides he wants to take home one of the zoo’s water dragons, Bindi, her brother Robert, and a green-winged macaw come to the rescue.
Book 2. Wildlife Adventures by jess Black. Bindi and her friend Hannah are on a horse riding trek in South Africa when they discover that the so-called breeding sanctuary for the endangered giant sable antelope is actually a secret game reserve for wealthy tourists with guns. Caught spying, will the girls be able to tell anyone their discovery ?
There are 12 in the seris so far and more due out in May of 2011. The first two have come out in paperback this year, with more to follow. All books contain fact files at the back about the various animals in the story and ways for children to become more involved in conservation. This twelve year is certainly having a big impact on promoting animal conservation and shows that just like Pennies for Peace, whatever our age, we can all make a difference.