A wildlife hospital and a world-class refuge facility for platypus will be established at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, thanks to $22.8 million worth of funding as part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget.
This is part of a larger investment in Taronga’s capability with new hospital units operating at both Taronga Sydney and Western Plains Zoos. Together, the NSW Government has committed $37.5 million as part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget, in addition to $3.2 million previously committed. The remaining $35.9 million needed for the projects across both locations will be sought from philanthropic and private donors. The Dubbo hospital will be completed by 2022.
As well as the $14 million towards the wildlife hospital, Taronga Western Plains Zoo will receive an $8.8 million Platypus Visitor and Education Facility, which will also be finished by 2022.
Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders said this is one of the largest investments in Taronga Western Plains Zoo in its history.
“The zoo is a huge tourism and conservation draw card for our region, with more than 180,000 people visiting each and every year,” he said.
“The new wildlife hospital and platypus refuge will not only play key roles in caring for injured wildlife but also make a significant contribution to vital conservation work.
“The platypus is one of Australia’s most iconic and important species and the new refuge, which will be internationally significant, will allow us to safely house up to 65 platypus at one time in need of temporary accommodation or rehabilitation for injuries.”
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the new facilities are great news for Dubbo, with tourists expected to flock to the region to get a glimpse of the new attractions.
“Charles Darwin was fascinated by the platypus when he visited Australia in the 1800s, and people around the globe are still fascinated by the mammal today,” he said.
“These two projects are particularly good news for regional wildlife displaced by droughts and bushfires, and will provide a great educational resource for school students and researchers alike.”
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the combined funding will deliver a huge return for the Central-West region.
“Not only will Dubbo gain these great new community assets, there will be direct and indirect benefits for the community with new jobs and economic stimulus flowing to local suppliers and tourism operators for years to come,” he said.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said construction will commence on the Wildlife Hospital in mid-2021.
“Dubbo Wildlife Hospital is the main wildlife hospital west of the Great Diving Range – servicing about half of the state and treating close to 1,400 cases each year,” he said.
“The new Wildlife Hospital will enable the hard-working veterinary staff to continue their critical work caring for critically ill and injured wildlife and expand their conservation and preventative health care programs.”