15 June 2021

Public donations kindle new facility for threatened platypus

| Edwina Mason
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A person holding a platypus

A new Platypus Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility will be built in Sydney thanks to a $600,000 donation from RSPCA NSW. Photo: Supplied.

In the wake of heightened concerns about the threatened status of the iconic platypus comes the news the species is to have a second dedicated rescue and rehabilitation facility in NSW.

Thanks to plans by the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and RSPCA NSW, a new purpose-built facility will serve as a refuge for platypus requiring urgent care and respite at Taronga Zoo Sydney, courtesy of a $600,000 donation from RSPCA NSW.

This follows the announcement in March 2021 of a similar platypus rehab facility to be constructed at Taronga’s Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo using NSW Government funding.

Taronga is well known as a leader in the care of platypus, and during the Black Summer bushfires the organisation was called on to provide care and refuge for platypus from rescued drying waterways in the ACT’s Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

The platypus were later released back into their habitat.

Man holding platypus

The new Platypus Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility in Sydney is the second such facility to be constructed in NSW. The first was announced in March 2021 and will be build at Taronga’s Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo. Photo: Supplied.

The new state-of-the-art facility will significantly increase Taronga’s capacity to undertake emergency translocations in response to drought, fire or other threatening processes, and provide species-specific rehabilitation facilities for animals treated through Taronga’s wildlife hospital.

Once complete, the facility will be able to provide refuge and rehabilitation for nine to 12 platypus at any one time, dependent on sex ratio.

The RSPCA NSW’s donation was made possible by the outpouring of public support during the Black Summer bushfires through RSPCA NSW’s emergency appeal.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia chief executive officer Cameron Kerr said platypus are silent victims of climate change.

“Shy and enigmatic, platypus are rarely seen which means their decline has been hidden from public view,” he said.

“Sadly, pressures on their environment mean that more and more of these animals are being brought to us for help.

“At Taronga, we refuse to watch as our icons vanish, and we must do all we can to protect the platypus.

“That’s why this new Platypus Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility is so important in our fight to protect our native wildlife.”

READ ALSO Platypus death a stark reminder of the species’ fight for survival

RSPCA NSW chief executive officer Steve Coleman said his organisation is pleased to be partnering with Taronga to ensure the platypus is kept from the brink of extinction.

“We are seeing more threats to our incredible, vibrant wildlife species, which means their wellbeing has never been more of a priority to us,” he said.

“All creatures great and small is the foundation upon which RSPCA NSW has been built.

“Their future is our future, which is why we must focus our rescue and conservation efforts now.”

Taronga’s senior vet, Larry Vogelnest, said he is proud to have RSPCA NSW’s support to protect these incredible animals.

“Taronga Zoo has a long history of providing expert care for these notoriously complex animals,” he said.

“We are one of only two institutions which has successfully bred platypus in recent decades.

“This specialist facility will give us the right tools and environment so we can use our knowledge to provide treatment and rehabilitation for platypus.”

Construction of the new facility will commence later this year and is expected to be completed in 2022.

People looking to support Taronga’s ongoing work to help save the platypus can now adopt a platypus. For more information, click here.

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