Conservation Action in 2023


ZAA member dedication and tenacity sees noteworthy achievements in rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing some of the region's most threatened species.


  • Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary translocated captive-bred Eastern Bristlebirds to the wild

The Eastern Bristlebird is one of Australia’s top 20 endangered bird species. With approximately 40 individuals remaining in the northern population, it meets IUCN criteria for critically endangered. 

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has held the captive breeding program for the Northern population of Eastern Bristlebird Dasyornis brachypterus since 2014, working closely with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, the NSW Saving Our Species program, and the Northern Working Group for Eastern Bristlebird National Recovery Team. 

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has developed a viable breeding program after overcoming several challenges, such as low founder numbers, infertility and chick mortality, and funding uncertainty. Last year, 15 captively bred Eastern Bristlebirds were successfully translocated to historic and existing bristlebird sites in and around Border Ranges National Park, Northern NSW. The NSW Saving Our Species program developed a translocation plan for progressive releases into prepared habitats on private land and within national park estate which aims to reinforce the northern population. This initial 10-year release program aims to restore the wild northern population to at least 150 birds, comprising at least 70-80 territories in sites under long-term conservation management.

Eastern Bristlebird [PC: Sean Curran]


  • Monarto Safari Park released Brush-tailed Bettong with Marna Banggara 

Seventy-three tiny, critically endangered marsupials were flown more than 2,000 kilometres to South Australia to start a new life in Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park as part of an ambitious project to restore locally extinct species to South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. 

It took seven separate flights from Perth to Adelaide to transport the 49 male and 24 female bettongs as part of the cross-party Marna Banggara project. 

Each group was given health checks and fitted with tracking devices before being released at night into their new home at the foot of Yorke Peninsula.

Brush-tailed Bettong


  •  Perth Zoo’s successful Dibbler breeding program marks final wild release 

After 26 years of dedicated efforts, 2023 saw the successful completion of Perth Zoo’s Dibbler breed-for-release program. This milestone came after the final zoo-bred Dibblers were released onto Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia, an area where they’d previously gone extinct. 

Since 1997, Perth Zoo has bred 1,173 Dibblers for release into suitable wild habitat in Western Australia, of which 203 have been released on Dirk Hartog Island. The breeding program has been instrumental in rescuing the endangered marsupial from extinction. 

Now the breeding program has achieved its goals, the focus shifts to safeguarding the species in both natural and translocated populations, ensuring the continued success of Dibbler conservation efforts. Dibblers have previously been released at Peniup Nature Reserve, near their natural populations in Fitzgerald River National Park, and on Escape and Gunton Islands to establish new populations.



  •  Whale and Dolphin heroically rescued by Sea World Foundation 

In September, while on a research trip in Eden (Southern New South Wales), the Sea World Foundation team conducted one of its most intricate rescue operations to save a humpback whale that was heavily entangled with rope and chain around its pectoral fins and body, towing a large Waverider buoy in the Tasman Sea. 

Fortunately, the Sea World Foundation team had their cutting equipment on board, and despite being understaffed, the specialised team successfully removed all of the equipment from the whale in an operation that lasted around 15 minutes. Following the release, the team monitored the whale briefly before leaving it to continue its southern migration accompanied by two other whales.

Whale Rescue [Right Image PC: Dr. Olaf Meynecke]


In one of the largest operations in recent history, the Sea World Foundation team, in conjunction with Queensland Environment, rescued a dolphin heavily entangled in a fishing line. The operation involved 27 specialised staff and seven vessels, with the teams managing to remove the entanglement on-site, but closer inspection identified severe damage and the dolphin was brought to Sea World for surgery to remove a section of the dorsal fin to minimise the risk of re-entanglement in the future. The dolphin was successfully returned to the Moreton Bay region after a rehabilitation stint.

Dolphin Entanglement


  •  Long journey home for endangered Chuditch from Taronga Western Plains Zoo 

Taronga’s Chuditch conservation breeding program has gone from strength to strength in 2023, with another 15 individuals returned to the wild. 

Since the commencement of the program in 2022, Taronga has bred 37 joeys and released a total of 30 Chuditch to crucial conservation sites in South Australia and Western Australia.



  •  Taronga Zoo returned Platypus to National Park After 50-Year Absence 

Across May 2023, ten platypus were returned to Royal National Park after being locally extinct for 50 years, the first-ever translocation program for platypus in NSW. The translocation aims to re-establish a self-sustaining and genetically diverse platypus population. 

The platypus were collected from southern NSW to ensure genetic diversity and brought to Taronga Zoo’s purpose-built platypus refuge, which can hold up to 12 platypus for rehabilitation before reintroduction to the wild. The ten platypus were given veterinary health checks, assessed for release, and fitted with transmitters before being translocated. Five female platypus were released first into the park to establish territories, followed by males a week later. 

The project was a collaboration between the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Taronga Conservation Society Australia, UNSW Sydney, and WWF-Australia.

Platypus release


  •  Moonlit Sanctuary successfully bred and released Pookila 

In 2023, Moonlit Sanctuary celebrated the birth of six litters of Pookila, adding 20 new pups and essential genetics to this endangered species' breeding program and captive population.  

Breeding success at Moonlit Sanctuary saw the need to open a second Pookila enclosure, doubling the carrying capacity for the species at their institution. The new breeding pairs were placed in an environment free of established Pookila scents and pheromones. 

The standout highlight of 2023 for Moonlit Sanctuary was the release of captive-bred Pookila from their site, as part of a bigger operation into Wilson's Promontory National Park under the Victorian Pookila Conservation Breeding and Reintroduction Program. Five out of six females were released from Moonlit Sanctuary into the park across three locations in the hopes of pairing with some local males and increasing the genetic diversity of the Pookila.

Pookila Release


  • North Queensland Wildlife Trust Fuels Conservation Efforts

The North Queensland Wildlife Trust (NQWT) was established in 2003 by the Freeman family, who own and operate Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, Kuranda Koala Gardens, and Birdworld Kuranda. The Trust is focussed very much on grassroots conservation efforts, hands-on wildlife care, critical habitat acquisition, conservation, research, and preservation. At the Freeman attractions, there are easy mechanisms for visitors to make an active contribution to the conservation of native species and local habitats, with funds accumulating weekly.

Visitors are encouraged to donate their spare change at the various collection boxes located in each wildlife park. For each dollar collected, the business holding the donation box matches the cash collected, dollar for dollar. Since the Freeman Family's invitation by Tourism and Events Queensland to participate in their inaugural 'Travel for Good' program in 2022, they also created a new revenue stream via a @2.00 automatic donation being included in every wildlife encounter photo taken at their parks.

Since its inception, the North Queensland Wildlife Trust has distributed more than $300,000 directly or via equipment acquisition, etc., to local conservation groups, researchers, etc., with Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Status. In November 2023, NQWT provided funds to seven extremely worthy causes that shared from a pool of $58,000.