2022 - Releases to the wild 

ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums have continued to set conservation milestones this year through their breed and release programs. These programs focus on a range of species including the Eastern Bristlebird, Western Swamp Tortoise, Brush-tailed Bettongs and Kākāriki. The programs help boost wild population numbers and contribute to the conservation of these vulnerable and threatened species. 



Alice Springs Desert Park releasing Red Tailed Phascogale to the wild


Alice Springs Desert Park celebrates the successful release of 60 Red Tailed Phascogale:

On the evening of the 7th of November, Alice Springs Desert Park released 20 endangered Red Tailed Phascogale at Secret Rock Reserve in the Gawler Ranges, South Australia. These beautiful marsupials were just one release from an ongoing breeding program between SA Parks and Wildlife and Alice Springs Desert Park. An additional 40 Red Tailed Phascogale were released across multiple sites in South Australia on the 30th of November.


Initially started in 2019, at the request of Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary in the Northern Territory, the breeding programs have successfully seen the release of Red Tailed Phascogale in the Northern Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. They are carnivorous marsupials that were once widespread across Australia, however, they are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation as well as predation by foxes and cats. They also have an extraordinary breeding cycle with the males embarking on a frenzied month-long mating schedule causing them to literally die from exhaustion, leaving just the adult females and their young. These elusive critters were almost extinct with only a small wild population still in existence in Western Australia. Thanks to the joint initiative breeding programs and the Alice Springs Desert Park Zoology team, it is expected that the release of this species will see a considerable boost in their population, bringing them back from the brink.


Ngā Manu Nature Reserve successfully release 15 Kākāriki (native parrots) into the wild:


Staff at Nga Manu Nature Reserve releasing Kākāriki (native parrots) into the wild 

In 2022 Ngā Manu Nature Reserve successfully released 15 Kākāriki (native parrots) into the wild through their breed-for-release programme. Ngā Manu general manager Anna McKenzie Hawea said the breed-for-release programme is a major part of the sanctuary’s contribution to species conservation in New Zealand (Aotearoa). They have a specialist avian team and purpose-built facilities to provide the best care required to ensure these birds are set up for success in the wild.


Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary celebrates successful ex-situ Eastern Bristlebird breeding:


Eastern Bristlebird chicks in nest                                                               Bristlebird enclosures 


In 2022 Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) saw a significant increase in their Eastern Bristlebird numbers through ex-situ breeding which was possible due to the building of 5 new aviaries at the Garima Conservation Reserve. The Eastern Bristlebird program is now moving into the next phase in the recovery of the species, with the release of captive-bred birds back to the wild tentatively scheduled for early 2023! This next step is only possible through Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s partnership with NSWDPE who have worked tirelessly on habitat restoration, and the CWS conservation team who completed harness trials to determine the safest way to attach radio transmitters to these birds to enable reliable monitoring of the bird's post-release. 


Perth Zoo achieve record-breaking conservation milestone for the Western Swamp Tortoise:

In 2022 Perth Zoo achieved a record-breaking conservation milestone for the Western Swamp Tortoise! An incredible 191 zoo-bred WSTs were released into safe wild habitat in Scott National Park and Moore River in August 2022. This is the largest release of tortoises since the program commenced in 1989, marking a major moment in history for the species conservation. Endemic to Western Australia, the WST is considered one of the rarest and most critically endangered reptiles in the world. These tiny reptiles were once thought to be extinct, making Perth Zoo’s efforts to bolster populations pivotal to the species' survival. Since the collaborative program’s inception, Perth Zoo has bred more than 1200 WST, with 1000 of these individuals released into the wild to bolster populations. 


Adelaide Zoo successfully complete the translocation of 80 Brush-tailed Bettongs:

Zoos South Australia’s conservation team have been heavily involved with the logistical planning and management of the second translocation of 80 Brush-tailed Bettongs from Western Australia and Wedge Island (SA) into Marna Banggara in 2022. The Bettongs joined the first cohort, which were released in August 2021. The team are happy to report that the Marna Banggara bettong population is thriving, with trapping data showing high levels of pouch young. Located at the ‘foot’ of the Yorke Peninsula, Marna Banggara will see several locally extinct species reintroduced including Red-tailed Phascogales, Southern Brown Bandicoots, Augment Barn Owls, and eventually, the Western Quoll.