Financial support from the Federal Government is now flowing to Wildlife HQ to help cover the operational costs of caring for their animals and as we head into the school holidays, support from the community will also go a long way to ensuring the zoo’s continued success.
Federal Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien said the funding was part of the Federal Government’s package to help exhibiting zoos and aquariums get through the COVID-19 crisis.
“A lump sum of nearly $50,000 has been released to Wildlife HQ to assist with their animal welfare expenses. This includes feed, enclosure, health and other specialised care expenses, as well as utilities directly related to housing and caring for animals,” Mr O’Brien said.
Mr O’Brien said the funding was in addition to Federal support being provided to zoo staff through the JobKeeper program.
“We’ve also been able to support 10 staff here at Wildlife HQ through the JobKeeper program,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Tourism is one of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis and keeping attractions like Wildlife HQ operational is of huge value for the local economy. The flow-on effects are significant. The zoo attracts thousands of visitors to the region who then visit other attractions or sleep in our hotels and dine in our restaurants.”
CEO of Wildlife HQ Jarrod Schenk described the funding as a lifeline.
“We’re very thankful for the funding. It’s something we didn’t expect or anticipate when we closed the gates back in March so the announcement that there would be funding for our industry was definitely seen as a lifeline to save a lot of zoos and our industry,” Mr Schenk said.
“The main thing it’s doing is helping to settle a lot of the outstanding bills and expenses we’re incurring during the closure, so that’s very important, but it’s also going towards helping us develop a new undercover café area for visitors.”
In just two weeks, Wildlife HQ will celebrate 7 years at its Woombye site and Mr Schenk says the community’s support has been central to their success. Now open again, he’s hoping that visitors will flock to the zoo these the school holidays.
“A lot has changed in three months of closure, but a lot of people are already coming back and everyone is blown away by how much it’s all changed and how our small team here at Wildlife HQ were able to turn such a negative situation, like COVID and having to close, into digging deep and getting lots of renovations done and lots of improvements for the animals.
“We’re fully open and operational now and all 15 animal encounters are back available for people as well so if they ever want to have lunch with the meerkats or take a boat over to lima island that’s all possible,” he said.