Construction has begun on a multi-purpose Platypus Conservation Centre that will play a vital role in sustaining platypus population numbers, thanks to an $8.8 million investment from the NSW Government.
Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders said the project, co-funded by Taronga Conservation Society Australia, will provide refuge for a significant number of platypuses during severe environmental events such as drought.
“The centre will support about 65 platypuses and will include a refuge facility, research centre to observe and understand platypus breeding behaviour, rehabilitation and release facilities, and a public viewing area to educate guests,” Mr Saunders said.
“A naturalistic creek will also be built to observe the platypuses in a wild-like setting and help build fitness in rehabilitated animals ahead of their release back into the wild.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the centre will also support the local economy.
“Construction of this centre will allow Taronga to care for, observe and re-wild platypuses, while creating up to 70 jobs during the construction phase and two ongoing local jobs once the facility is operational,” Mr Toole said.
“The platypus is an iconic Australian animal and we’re committed to supporting the population of this species and preserving their numbers in the wild well into the future.”
Minister for Environment James Griffin said the new centre is an important extension of Taronga’s work across NSW to help the species.
“This new facility will help Taronga’s team of experts safeguard the species against local extinctions, while also allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of how platypuses breed and respond to a changing environment,” Mr Griffin said.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director Steve Hinks said he’s excited work is commencing on this ground-breaking project with local contractor David Payne Construction.
“The conservation centre will soon be a reality, providing more capacity for the emergency management of platypus in extreme environmental conditions such as drought,” Mr Hinks said.
“The Platypus Conservation Centre will further cement Taronga Western Plains Zoo as a conservation hub for native species, with programs for the Greater Bilby, Plains-wanderer, Regent Honeyeater and Chuditch already on site.”
The $12.1 million centre is co-funded by the NSW Government’s Infrastructure and Job Acceleration Fund and Taronga Conservation Society Australia.