March 2005

Wild... In K-Zone

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K-Zone March 2004


News Source: K-Zone, page 74 & 75, March 2004
By: Sally Townsend

Wild … With Sally Townsend from Australia Zoo

G’day! My name is Sally and it really tickles when my dingo friend, Teyha, gives me kisses! Teyha is one of six dingoes who call Australia Zoo home. Dingoes are generally shy animals, but at Australia Zoo they regularly interact with people. Check out for details on how you can have your very own personal encounter with one of our beautiful dingoes.

What A Feral!

Camels, red foxes and dingoes – these are all feral animals we have here at Australia Zoo. What exactly is a feral? It’s an animal that runs wild in a habitat to which it is not native. But aren’t dingoes supposed to be native to Australia? Well, not really. Dingoes were actually introduced to Australia but were here thousands of years before white Australians settled in this beautiful country.

Any animal that has been introduced to another habitat is probably going to cause strife. Red foxes were introduced back in the 1860s with the purpose of trying to rid Australia of another introduced species – the rabbit. Someone should have told them “DON'T MUCK WITH IT!”. As they say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

There are still millions of rabbits in Australia because they go like the clappers when it comes to reproducing. One female can have up to 100 babies in just one year! And now there are also literally millions of red foxes in the wild in Australia. Foxes have caused major ecological damage, especially to our native Australian wildlife. The red fox is responsible for many species that are now under threat.

What a ripper!
There is only one exception to the rule in our country. Camels have had hardly any impact on our fragile environment. They have soft feet, which don’t erode the earth and they don’t eat much, which doesn’t threaten the food resources of our native wildlife. In fact, some people have used the introduction of camels to Australia to their advantage by breeding and exporting them back to the Middle East. Woo-hoo!

Our feral animal display at Australia Zoo is here to educate people about the threat of feral animals to Australian native wildlife and also to show our guests these gorgeous and extraordinary animals. While they don’t really belong here, they certainly have a place in the world and should be respected, just like all animals deserve.

A feral tip:
Cats can be real sweethearts and make awesome pets, but sadly there are a lot of irresponsible pet owners in Australia. These days, there are around 10 million feral cats in the wild. Cats have a natural instinct to hunt and kill for food. In the wild, they kill a lot of native birds and small marsupials. Make sure you keep your kitty well fed and inside at night. If you don’t intend to breed you animal, take it to the vet and have it desexed. Most importantly, please realise that having a pet is a huge commitment and don’t ever dump you cat in the wild.

Have a go at this… Australia Zoo’s favourite feral keeper, Tanya , has some cool tips on how to keep your pets active and happy. She’s an expert and has two camels, six dingoes and two foxes to take care of.

Toys are great for your pets, however, they’ll get bored with them pretty quickly. Don’t use the same toys over and over. You can also store their toys away to give them a different scent and renew your pet’s interest.

How would you like to slurp on one of Tanya’s home-made ice-blocks? Her yummy creations include ingredients like mince, sardines, corn, fruit, dry dog food and gravy! They may not be so yummy for us but your pet will gobble them up. For smaller animals, put it in an ice cube tray and use plastic takeaway containers for larger animals.

Animals love to track scents. Tanya uses a variety of scents such as essential oils, diluted fruit juice and perfume. She will place a drop of the scent randomly around the enclosure with a morsel of food. Animals delight in tracking the scent and finding food. Your pet will probably taste and rub in the scent so only use NON-TOXIC products. You might also be better off staying away from Mum’s favourite perfume! Crikey!