Legislative Council: Wednesday, October 18, 2023



Zoos SA

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:

That this council—

1. Recognises Zoos SA was originally established in 1878 as The Acclimatisation Society of South Australia, and is one of the state’s oldest conservation organisations;

2. Notes that both Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park are long-established parts of the South Australian community and have been integral to the state’s tourism industry;

3. Congratulates Adelaide Zoo for winning the Major Tourist Attractions category at the 2022 South Australian Tourism Awards;

4. Congratulates Monarto Safari Park for winning the Tourist Attractions category, Excellence in Accessible Tourism category and Voters’ Choice Award at the 2022 South Australian Tourism Awards; and

5. Commends Zoos SA for representing South Australia at the Great Wine Capitals Global Network and winning the 2023 Global Best of Wine Tourism Award for the ‘Grapes for Good’ program, and for the support the program brings to tourism in the Langhorne Creek region.

(Continued from 22 March 2023.)

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (17:56): I rise to support the motion moved by my colleague the Hon. Jing Lee, and I thank her for bringing this motion to the chamber. Zoos everywhere play several important roles, contributing to education, conservation, research and entertainment. Our own group of facilities—the Adelaide Zoo and the Monarto Safari Park—are indeed important institutions in our South Australian community, having been established in 1878.

Our two zoological facilities provide a unique opportunity for people, especially children, to learn about a wide variety of animals from all around the world. They offer educational programs, exhibits and interactive displays that take visitors to Adelaide Zoo and Monarto and teach people about the importance of biodiversity, wildlife conservation and ecological principles. This firsthand experience can foster a greater appreciation and understanding of nature.

My own personal experience of seeing different animals at the Adelaide Zoo that I had only seen in books and on the screen prior to that was influential and inspirational in my decision to be a veterinarian. Many modern zoos actively participate in breeding programs for endangered species and work to protect the genetic diversity of these animals. Our zoos in South Australia are no different.

Zoos SA staff are working on improving populations for the greater bilby, the regent honeyeater, the western swamp tortoise and the black-flanked rock-wallaby, to name just a few Australian species. They are also involved in international breeding programs, in particular for Zambian wild dogs and chimpanzees, and they also run conservation projects in places such as Kenya and the Solomon Islands.

Zoos often collaborate with international conservation organisations to support species recovery and reintroduction programs, and animals in zoos may serve as insurance populations for species that are critically endangered in the wild. Zoos SA is internationally recognised for its work in establishing insurance populations.

Directly linked to those programs and partnerships is zoological scientific research. Zoos SA scientists and researchers study animal behaviour, physiology and health. This research contributes to our understanding of wildlife biology and can have a broader application in fields like medicine and ecology. I know firsthand how committed Zoos SA are to providing high standards of care for their animals, promoting their welfare and supporting rehabilitation efforts for injured or orphaned wildlife. They endeavour to provide a safe and comfortable environment for animals in their care.

On the note of animal care, I would like to mention an incident from my years as a regional veterinarian, a story of which I was reminded when speaking about this motion with the Hon. Ian Hunter. There was a travelling circus, which was passing through the Riverland some years ago, that had an ill macaque monkey. I recall the professionalism of the Zoos SA staff whom I consulted with over multiple back and forth phone calls to assist the macaque, who was unfortunately suffering from diarrhoea.

They were exemplary in ensuring that not only was the macaque diagnosed and treated appropriately but that I, as the practising veterinarian, was also safe in dealing with the macaque monkey. Zoonosis, which is obviously the spread of diseases from animals to humans, is a risk when dealing with monkeys, particularly their notoriety in the spread of herpes virus. So I was thankful to Zoos SA staff at that time, and I know that their professionalism and expertise continue today.

As specifically mentioned in my colleague's motion, Zoos SA is an important contributor to our state's tourism dollars. Visitors from surrounding areas come to the zoos, which obviously boosts local economies. This influx of visitors has a positive impact on businesses like hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops, generating revenue for not only Adelaide but also for the Murraylands region around Monarto Safari Park.

I would lastly like to applaud the Adelaide Zoo for their win at the 2022 South Australian Tourism Awards. The Major Tourist Attraction category, as I understand it, is hotly contested, but this award is a testament to just how well run the Adelaide Zoo is. They continue to be innovative with their activations and community engagement. I understand that they have recently also been named as a finalist in this year's awards, in both the Major Tourist Attraction and Excellence in Accessible Tourism award, and I wish them all the best on this year's submissions.

Just like myself, a visit to the Adelaide Zoo or Monarto Safari Park could inspire the next generation of conservationists, biologists and scientists. With that, I commend the motion to the chamber.

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (18:02): I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, the Hon. Dr Nicola Centofanti, for her wonderful contribution and for sharing her personal stories and professional experience in relation to Adelaide zoos. I also want to acknowledge her remarks regarding the economic importance of the Adelaide Zoo and the contributions made to tourism of South Australia as well. With those remarks, I commend the motion.

Motion carried.

At 18:05 the council adjourned until Thursday 19 October 2023 at 14:15.