Sydney Taronga Zoo by Maddie Melotte

A great experience I had while in Australia was taking a behind the scenes tour of the Sydney Taronga Zoo. The zoo stresses conservation, education and preservation so as not to exploit the animals. They aim to provide a high level of care and enrichments to the animals. Taronga is also involved in many conservation and animal welfare programs. The zoo also includes a wildlife hospital, where they care for animals within the zoo as well has injured wildlife brought in by the public. Through a glass window I was able to view a pelican undergoing surgery to repair his beak that had recently been torn by a fishing hook. The Taronga Zoo is the largest zoo in Australia and has many native animals, and the tour allowed for close encounters with some, including kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies.

My favorite part was being able to feed and pet the wallabies! Seeing and interacting with the animals up close allowed for a greater appreciation and value than what could be gained from a classroom setting. For those interested in ecology such as myself, this sense of connection with nature is what drives conservation efforts. The general public being able to see for themselves what’s at stake due to declining environmental health is key to making big changes in how the population relates to and values nature. For those already involved in ecology or conservation classes themselves, learning about endangered species and the current fragile state of the environment in terms of numbers and statistics pales in comparison to the effect of connecting first hand to the creatures at risk.  

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