One of the South Coast’s biggest tourist drawcards has reached out to the community for support as it battles to get through the COVID-19 crisis.
Mogo Wildlife Park has faced more than its fair share of adversity in the past two years, hit first by the Black Summer bushfires and then by the pandemic.
It’s also celebrated the joy, then heartbreak, of the birth and subsequent death of one of two orphaned lion cubs.
But through it all, the zoo has been steadfast in its support of the South Coast community and its commitment to its animals and staff.
It hosted a free community fun day to celebrate its reopening after the fires, held a thank you for emergency service workers and organised a pay-it-forward scheme for disadvantaged children.
Now it’s hoping the wider Capital Region community will help it survive.
“Lockdown 2.0 is especially challenging for Mogo Wildlife Park,” spokesperson Sara Ang said.
“Without regular visitors, our resources are stretched and we are calling out to the community to support us in even a small way.”
The zoo is asking supporters to pre-purchase a sponsorship package that will be fully redeemable when the wildlife park can finally reopen its gates.
Sponsorship can start as small as a $10 Orange Support Package that gives a sponsor $10 park credit to spend at Mogo Wildlife Park when it reopens or extend all the way to a $100 Platinum Support Package which provides a single adult or child entry to Mogo Wildlife Park and a giraffe feeding experience.
It’s a different approach but one Sara hopes will take off.
“We’ve launched it as a Care for Mogo package,” she said.
“We’ve still got a lot of costs, with no revenue coming in, and one of the biggest ones is wages.”
While the Federal Government is helping foot the monstrous animal food bill, core staffing costs have remained unchanged.
“We have had to stand down reception and front office staff, but in terms of keepers, we have got to keep them proportional to the animals we have in our care. Federal funding doesn’t cover that and we can’t reduce their hours – the needs of the animals don’t change.
“(Zookeeper) Chad (Staples) has got a lot of good contacts within the community – people have come forward with things from their gardens, or bamboo and stuff, the community has been very generous, but we have to keep some revenue coming in.”
Sara urged people to consider sponsorships as a Father’s Day gift.
“You’d be doing two things,” she said.
“You provide a present for your dad and it gives us some immediate support.”
As for the animals, Zookeeper Chad says they do miss the presence of visitors – but probably not in the way we might hope.
“It’s not like they are sad about it as such,” Zookeeper Chad said.
“But they will react positively when people come back.
“The more intelligent the animal, the more they notice – particularly the ones involved in animal encounters. They miss it because it’s a positive interaction for them.”
So do the keepers fill the void? Not really, according to Chad.
“They just don’t look at us the same way,” he said.
“They know who we are and our function. The primates in particular like people-watching – it’s stimulation for them.”
Care for Mogo sponsorships are available by clicking this link.