It’s all sytems go at the Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park at Calga, which reopened its doors to the public on June 1.
Operations Manager, Tassin Barnard, said it was a “strange feeling” to once again welcome visitors.
“It came maybe six weeks earlier than we thought it might,” Barnard said.
“So in the preceding week we did a huge amount of work to make sure people are safe – and not only feel safe, but feel welcome.
“We have our signs up, our handwash stations in place, and we’re ready to go.”
Barnard said staff had used the period of forced closure to rethink how the park staff engage with visitors and how visitors engage with the animals.
“We still have more than 60 species, but our interactions will now be more on the animals’ terms,” she said.
“We are inviting people to join rangers in the park at certain times of the day so we can answer their questions as we do the work.
“We are also asking people to book online so when know what time to expect them and staff can be focussed on looking after them when they arrive.”
Barnard said staff had also taken advantage of the closure to refurbish many of the animal enclosures.
“We’ve completely redone the python house,” she said.
“You have to get the heating just right for reptiles, so it’s important everything was set up so they can have a comfortable winter.”
While many of the animals were quite happy to enjoy the peace and quiet during isolation, some of the more social species were affected by the lack of visitors, she said.
“Spending time with animals can be a huge healing opportunity.
“We invite people to come and enjoy the peace as they commune with our animals.”
Barnard said the park was always eager for volunteer help.
“People think volunteering here means interacting with the animals, but there are so many other things we need help with, such as mending fences and marketing,” she said.
“If any local residents want to help out we’d love to hear from them.”
Interview, Jun 5
Reporter: Terry Collins