From bush fire alert to flooding

Park Director, Tim Faulkner, moves some koalas to shelterPark Director, Tim Faulkner, moves some koalas to shelter

The Australian Reptile Park at Somersby went from being on bush fire alert to a forced closure due to flooding on Friday, January 17.

Keepers spent the morning working to protect animals and buildings after a major flash flood hit the park during torrential rainfall on the Friday morning. As welcome as the downpour was in the wake of bush fire alerts in the area, the decision was made to close the park for the day to ensure visitor safety.

It was the first time that the Park has closed its doors since massive floods in 2007. Staff relocated animals, sandbagged doorways and continually swept to remove water from entry ways. Park Director, Tim Faulkner, had just returned from droughtaffected waterways in the Barrington Tops area where he had helped rescue endangered Manning River turtles and platypuses devastated by the dried up creeks in the area.

“It was incredible, last week, we were having daily meetings to discuss the imminent threat of bushfires, just 8km away,” he said. “On Friday, we had the whole team out there, drenched and acting fast to secure the safety of our animals and defend the Park from the onslaught of water. “We haven’t seen flooding like this at the Park for over 12 years. “We even had keepers stationed at our Alligator Lagoon to monitor the water levels, which were rising beyond the fence line.

“The contrast between the bushfire crisis and the sudden flooding is striking. “But we are well aware that a huge part of Australia is still burning and millions of animals are still under threat. “The rain doesn’t replace the millions of hectares of habitat that has been lost over the last few months.

“The team at the Australian Reptile Park has also been hard at work out in the field helping our animal conservation charity, Aussie Ark, to protect what’s left after the fires. “Going from drought and fire relief to flooding is all in a day’s work for our staff. No two days are the same.”

The Park reopened for business as usual on January 18.

Source: Media release, Jan 17, Tim Faulkner, Director, Australian Reptile Park Media statement, Jan 20 Australian Reptile Park