Release to the wild in 2020


During 2020, ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums continued their important conservation work and this includes some very special moments: releasing animals from breeding programs to begin their lives in the wild.

In September, ten greater bilbies bred at Taronga Western Plains Zoo were released into the Sturt National Park in the far north-west corner of NSW where they have been extinct for more than a century.

Rainfall across western NSW following one of the worst droughts on record provided favourable conditions to finally release greater bilbies into the Wild Deserts area. The bilbies are all doing well and on first catch-up have gained weighed a sign they are thriving in their new habitat.


Bilbies released by Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Bilbies released from Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Dibblers released from Perth Zoo

Over in WA, 31 endangered Dibblers have been released on to Dirk Hartog Island National Park in a coordinated effort between Perth Zoo and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

This is the second time in as many years that this small carnivorous marsupial has been reintroduced to the island after it went extinct from the area centuries ago. The release is part of Return to 1616 which aims to restore the island’s ecosystem.

Before their release, some of the Dibblers were fitted with radio collars at Perth Zoo so researchers can track their movements to identify habitat preferences that will help guide future releases and conservation efforts.

Perth Zoo is the only Zoo in the world that breed the endangered Dibbler and since 1997, more than 900 Dibblers have been bred and released.

In New Zealand, Orana Wildlife Park is involved in Department of Conservation (DOC) breed for release programmes. This breeding season 18 kākāriki karaka/orange-fronted parakeet (NZ’s rarest parakeet with less than 300 in the wild) and 12 whio/blue duck (with less than 3,000 in the wild) bred at Orana were released to the wild.

They were also thrilled to join another breeding programme for a key NZ native species: Maud Island/Hamilton’s frog. 17 frogs arrived in May and are housed in their brand new purpose-designed research facility. The ultimate aim is to reliably breed these cryptic creatures, something that has not yet been achieved anywhere in the world.


Dibblers released from Perth Zoo

Whio at Orana Wildlife Park

Orange-fronted kākāriki in the breed-for-release programme at Orana Wildlife Park