Reconnecting with nature at zoos and aquariums


With 2020 being the year it was, many of us have needed that chance to reconnect with nature. Several ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums took the chance this year to look at how they could help people connect with nature whether through community programs, charismatic animal advocates, new exhibits or holiday fun from home.

Brooklands Zoo connected visitors with native wildlife including Taranaki Kiwi Trust talks for Save Kiwi Month, Maori Language Week and participation in the Toyota Kiwi Guardians (DOC) program etc. They also welcomed little owls and red crowned kakariki, who were both needing new homes for improved welfare and are now very happy in their new space.

They also said goodbye to some morepork and tui that were released back to the wild after being rehabilitated at the zoo.


Visitors at Brooklands Zoo

The new red-crowned kākāriki at Brooklands Zoo

King penguin chicks at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

SEA LIFE Melbourne Zoo shared their "ascarium" online for Halloween

At SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, four king penguin chicks have been winning hearts after hatching in 2020 as part of their 8th successful breeding season.

And whilst the Aquarium may be closed to the public for much of the year with Victoria’s lockdown, that hasn’t stopped the team from creating a haunted house for the aquatic animals on Halloween! The “Ascarium” was in full swing online, with carefully carved Jack-O-Lanterns submerged in various displays, intriguing the resident sea creatures. 

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park recently celebrated the first birthday of Hugo, an Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) born as part of the ZAA Species Management Program (SMP) for this endangered species. Hugo is the first pup born to Adelaide, a wild-born rescued orphaned sea lion. Little Hugo’s introduction to basic training is going very well and his care team have been astounded at his intelligence when learning new behaviours and his bravery when exploring the Park. An advocate this cute makes it easy to get people on board to help protect our ocean habitats.


Little Hugo born to rescued Australian sea lion mum at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park as part of the ZAA regional breeding program

Hugo gets an enrichment treat for his birthday

Jessie the bare-nosed wombat joey raised at Caversham Wildlife Park

Native stingless bees from the new beehive at Alexandra Park Zoo

Speaking of cute advocates, Caversham Wildlife Park in WA welcomed a new bare-nosed wombats joey this year. During the COVID-19 closure, the highlight of their weeks was watching the pouch get bigger and bigger. When mum ejected the joey a little early and attempts to get her back into the pouch were unsuccessful, the care team stepped in to hand-rear the mostly furless 790g joey who would later be named Jessie. She now weighs 5kg and has them and their visitors all wrapped around her little paw!

Up in QLD, Alexandra Park Zoo has continued to grow in popularity through its commitment to conservation and public education of local wildlife species.

This year, the zoo received a special gift when a native stingless beehive was donated to them by a local native bee group Wide Bay Stingless Bees. The hive contains approximately 5,000 bees from the species Australoplebia australis, found locally in the Bundaberg region. It’s a great new way to talk to their visitors about local wildlife and give native insects some time in the spotlight.