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Sweet release for bushfire-surviving platypuses

Date: 06-May-20
Author: Liam Taylor

The platypus is one of Australia's most iconic and bizarre endemic species but is under threat from habitat loss and drought.

The platypus is one of Australia's most iconic and bizarre endemic species but is under threat from habitat loss and drought.

A group of platypuses who were evacuated under emergency circumstances during the summer’s bushfires have been successfully released back into their home habitat following recent rains.

As bushfires loomed menacingly in December last year, conservationists from the ACT swooped in to move the animals from rapidly disappearing ponds at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Since just after Christmas, these seven platypuses have been hanging out and being cared for by the staff at Taronga Zoo.

During their time at Taronga Zoo, the animals were fed live yabbies, handled as little as possible and kept separate from other animals at the zoo to ensure they would keep their natural behaviours. This was important to ensure they could successfully reintegrate into the ecosystem once returned to the wild, which is exactly what has been achieved following recent rainfall in the ACT.

"We've had lots of rain, the creeks are full, and there's lots of food available," Dr Phoebe Meagher from Taronga Zoo told ABC News.

UNSW researchers and staff at the Tidbinbilla reserve will now monitor the platypus’ progress over the coming weeks to see how successfully they go back to life in the wild. They will also be closely analysing the way climate change continues to affect the habitat of this and other native species in the park.

The success of this project indicates emergency evacuations may become a more common conservation technique going forwards. It follows a a similar story that emerged in March of a group of evacuated koalas being released back into the Blue Mountains.


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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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