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Tasmania Zoo A review of Tasmania Zoo

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Astrobird, 13 Jan 2015.

  1. Astrobird

    Astrobird Well-Known Member

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    Tasmania Zoo is situated in Riverstone, not far from Launceston. It is a member of AZA, and as such, they have been able to provide a home for many older or unwanted (mostly primate) species from other mainland zoos. The zoo is perhaps best known for their work with the Tasmanian Devil, and this is reflected in their slogan – “Tasmania Zoo – Have a devil of a time”
    I visited the zoo as a guest of some locals, so I don’t know how much the entry fee was. The carpark and entry building was several hundred metres from the road, so we enjoyed the view of a large natural lake and bushland as we drove into the zoo. The entrance building has a large Gorilla statue sitting on the roof. The first exhibits upon entering the zoo are several aviaries, very well constructed and clean, but of a “back yard” style, housing Canaries and Zebra finches in the first one, and then a range of mostly common parrots including 28 parrots, Superb, red rumped, Princess, Indian Ring necked, and Plum headed parrots, Green Cheeked, Sun and Nanday Conures, budgies, cockatiels, and love birds.
    After this row of aviaries, there is a few ugly looking aviaries made from an old water tank with a wire flight attached to the side, for several species such as Crimson rosella, Tawny Frogmouth and Little Corella. Behind these, there are large paddock style enclosures, 1 had a large pile of rocks in the centre but no visible animals, although there was plenty of fresh dung. There was no sign to give a hint of what may live in there. Alongside this yard was a similar yard for a pair of friendly Cassowary. Pellets in a cup ($1) for feeding animals was available at the entrance, and the cassowary were very eager to eat the pellets thru the fence. Continuing down the hill is the Dingo enclosure, although the sign describes them as Australian Dog. And behind this row of paddocks are the zoos off display breeding area for the Tassie Devils.
    Nearby the dingos is a low iron fence surrounding the moat for the Black tufted/caped Capuchin monkeys – I counted 3 of them. A decent sized island with several trees and ropes etc, but I would have liked to see more climbing structures high off the ground. A few domestic ducks were swimming in the moat, which were very keen for a feed of pellets.
    Continuing down the hill is the large enclosures for the Colobus monkeys and Long tailed or Crab Eating Macaques. A feature of these enclosures is the use of shipping containers for the night houses (in this case, 1 on top of the other) with a large wire aviary style enclosure on either side. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see any Colobus monkeys, although there was fresh fruit inside, so I assume they were simply inside the shipping container. I counted 4 Crab eating macaques in their enclosure. The cages are very high, approx. 5 metres, and there are plentiful ropes and branches for climbing, and long grass on the floor, but no attempts to be immersive or natural looking. Glass viewing windows would be an excellent upgrade to the enclosures.
    Nearby this enclosure was the entrance to the Dinosaur Swamp. We didn’t go on this tour, but they have a collection of life sized Dinosaurs set within the natural bushland, and tours are available twice a day.
    Not far from the Colobus and Crab eating Monkeys, was a similar deigned enclosure for the Siamang gibbons (2 brothers born @ Melbourne Zoo, sent to Cairns Safari Zoo and now here) and a pair of Mandrill Baboons. (The male is castrated, so although tall, he hasn’t got the bulk or full colours of a breeding male, and an older female, from Adelaide Zoo) Again, they had plenty of climbing opportunity and long grass and areas of mulch on the floor.
    Turning back up the hill, there are a few paddocks for Wallabies (unlabelled, but I think Tamar) Alpacas, Emus and then one filled with trees that I assume was empty of animals. Also in this area is the Little Blue Penguin house, and the Aquarium which houses mostly reptiles. The “Aquarium” is heated by a wood fire stove, as smoke could be seen billowing out a chimney from the rear of the building. Inside, one wall consists of basic enclosures (each approx. 4 X 8 metres) with Glass windows for Fresh water crocodile, Salt water Crocodile and American Alligator (1 specimen of each, all being about 4 – 5 feet long) After these was a few enclosures for a Python, Lace monitor and some other lizards. All the enclosures were very sparse, just a simple pool for the crocs and fake lawn on the land area, and the Python and Monitor had a few branches to climb also. The opposite wall to the crocs was the aquariums, I didn’t really look at these, but the quick glance showed mostly common gold fish and I notice their brochure said there was supposed to be Sea Horses there as well.
    The next area was a bit of a muddle of older, mostly ugly enclosures and aviaries, for smaller native animals (koala, wombats, Tassie Devils etc) and also Pheasants (Ring Necked and Golden) Cockatoos and a few more parrots. This area had me itching to get out with my gardening gloves on to pull out the weeds and tidy up the area. I assume this area is the original part of the zoo, and I feel it needs to be redone to modernise and bring it up to the standard of the newer parts of the zoo.
    Back up the top of the hill near the entrance building is a cluster of enclosures for the remaining primates (De Brazza Monkey, Common Marmoset, Cotton topped Tamarind, Black crest Macaque, & Lion tailed Macaque) the Blue & Gold Macaws (1 pair & 1 tame talking individual) Meerkats, Golden Brush tailed Possum and a few more aviaries with Ecelectus Parrots and a Red Capped Parrot. The common Marmoset family shared their aviary with some Stone Curlews – an interesting mix!
    If you continue on past the entrance building, you come across a children’s play area with a blow up jumping pillow, and the children’s farm, with Silky chickens, Guinea pigs, rabbits and then the new enclosure for the Cheetahs. This area was still under construction and parts were fenced off, but there were a few domestic goats, sheep and an Irish Miniature donkey grazing in the yards. In the distance, thru several fences, a camel could be seen, but there was no way of getting close to see it. The entrance building also contains a decent sized shop that you must go thru to exit, a café and a large under cover paved eating area which has the Cotton top Tamarind enclosure across one end, and the Meerkat enclosure along one side. All paths are gravel, and most have a rock edge to define the path and garden beds.
    Due to the fact that we were being shown around by our hosts and that we needed to fit in a lot into the day, we rushed around the zoo and I feel I didn’t do the place justice. We didn’t see any of the feeding talks or do the Dinosaur swamp tour which I would have liked to have done. I also wonder if I missed a few of the aviaries, due to the way there was no clear rout around the zoo that would take in everything.
    I really enjoyed my visit and would certainly visit again if I was in the area. For a regional Zoo, they have a fascinating collection, and they are really only missing some big cats (although cheetahs are supposed to be coming) and they need a Deer or Antelope species IMO to round it out. I would like to see a bit more landscaping and garden maintenance done, as the primate enclosures are all very “cage” looking. The signs were generally excellent, always large, often with pictures, but not always entirely accurate! An example of this would be the sign for the Moustached Parrots, which also showed Plum Headed and Ring necked parrots in the photos. I would compare Tasmania zoo to the Halls Gap Zoo in many ways – they both have a similar sized collection, and similar style of enclosure design and general landscaping. I applaud them for the work they are dong with the Tassie Devils and some native birds (such as the Swift Parrots) and would like to see them doing more with the breeding of exotic mammals. I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
     
  2. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Great review Astrobird, they certainly have an impressive collection of primates (for Australia), although I guess most of the more unusual species are non-breeding so will disappear in the future. The parrot collection also sounds quite impressive, although there doesn't seem to be many other bird species, and I'm not sure the marmoset/curlew mix is a good one!

    Do you know how old the "original" part of the zoo is?
     
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  4. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this review and nice to see that a local zoo is doing its best for a local species.
    BTW how well are they doing in breeding Tasmanian devils ?
     
  5. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Presumably the De Brazzas and Lion tailed Macaques are the remainders from Taronga & Melbourne respectively? Its a pity if they can't keep these groups going on into the future, as well as e.g. Mandrills but it sounds as if they are largely non-breeders so will die off eventually.
     
  6. Astrobird

    Astrobird Well-Known Member

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    I was under the impression the De Brazza's and Lion Tailed monkeys both came from Melbourne Zoo, and the Taronga Zoo's De Brazza's went to Mogo.
    The Siamangs came from Cairns Safari, the Crested macaques would have come from Perth and Cairns (1 male) the Mandrills came from Adelaide, and I assume the Colobus must have come from Melbourne also (anyone know how many and what sex they received?)
    The only breeding monkeys would theoretically be the Common Marmosets (they certainly have babies currently), or the Crab Eating Macaques. The others are either too old or castrated, either ways its disappointing.
    I also just Google mapped the zoo, and its interesting to see the areas of native bushland they have fenced off for their Tassie Devil programme, and the layout of the zoo and the size of the different enclosures.
     
  7. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    that's all correct. The De Brazza's monkeys and lion-tailed macaques are from Melbourne. The siamang brothers are from Cairns. The mandrills are from Adelaide. The female Sulawesi macaque is from Perth (the lone survivor of a larger group which was transferred here) and the male is from Cairns (but bred at Perth). The colobus are a pair (male and female).

    Most of the primates here are "retired" because most of them are, as you say, old or sterilised but all are related to one another anyway (within their own species I mean). They are the ends of doomed lines in the country.
     
  8. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    A good example of the 'trickledown effect' at work- where surplus, unwanted, single, aged or otherwise spare primates end up going to smaller zoos or 'sanctuaries' when the major Zoos go out of them. I am sure they will still have a good life at this Zoo though and present an interesting range of species too.
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I probably should have said here "the colobus were a pair". The zoo got a pair in 2012 but I'm not sure what the current status is. Last year they appear to have only had one animal (the male). They may have got more now, or they may still just have the one.