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Exporting native (Australian) wildlife

Discussion in 'Australia' started by ZooPro, 23 Jan 2007.

  1. ZooPro

    ZooPro Well-Known Member

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    Whilst I almost always agree with Patrick :D , in this case, I have to disagree, although I'm guessing Pat is just being "loose" with his words in this case! We are not stingy with exporting, but we are very cautious, and well-known overseas for our lengthy export permitting process, particularly for native fauna.

    There's good reasons for this:

    We are one of the few countries where importing and exporting from/to animal dealers is banned - this of course, is a good thing.

    We have a large number of unique wildlife species that are highly sought-after overseas, and as you would expect, we receive many, many requests from overseas zoos for our wildlife. Our exporting authorities will not allow us to deal with overseas institutions that do not meet high standards, and many zoos have been refused permits because of this (I'm not going to debate the institutional approval process, that's a whole other topic!).

    When attempting to export the most frequently-requested species, koala, platypus, wombat or Tasmanian devil, or an animal of an eligible listed threatened species, the exporter, the importer and the Department enter into an agreement (Ambassador Agreement) about the treatment and disposal of the animal and any progeny of the animal. The request to sign an Ambassador Agreement has been refused by some overseas zoos, and this also reduces the number of exports of native fauna. More information about DEH's export guidelines can be found here:

    Guide to the import and export of wildlife specimens for non-commercial purposes

    Having been involved in the export process for many native animals in the past, I know how involved the process is, and I also know how our processes are perceived overseas. But if that's what it takes to help limit the export of our native fauna, and the way our fauna is perceived overseas, then I think it is a good thing. It may be a little over the top, but overall, I think it has merit.
     
  2. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    actually i whole heartedly agree!

    indeed the word "stingy" was more in referenace to how overseas zoos, as you said, perceiveved us.

    and we are not that bad either. most overseas zoos find koalas a rediculously expensive investment that it often not worth it. san diego does well with the species, but many other US zoos have tried only to send them back. imagine if we let every zoo in northern hemisphere who asked for them have koalas? they would be a whole bunch of unwanted animals in the hands of dodgy american animal dealers in no time.

    exporting tasmanian devils to denmark was a stupid decision i think. the chances they will breed over there are pretty slim and with such a short life expectancy it wont be long before they ask for more. pretty pathetic since it clearly had nothing to do with the best interest for the species and everything to do with princess mary (god, is it just me or is she the most boring looking woman on the planet?).

    and what about platypus? now that is a species i imagine is HIGHLY sought after. from what i hear they tend to die from stress very easily during travel and their are doubts that they would survive an overseas trip. whilst i'm sure there are ways it could be done - i for one think its not a particuarly stupid decision to hold a few species here in asutalia so that if people wanna see them they gotta come here to do it. platypus are a good candidate for this.

    it may seema little hypocritical, since if it was the other way round and rhinos were only in africa, no doubt i'de want some, but i am actually very prud of out tight-arse attitude.

    and lets not forget that in the US you can buy suger gliders and almost all our reptiles in pet shops. and kangaroos and emus are found in almost every zoo i've ever been to. many of our birds are super common in overseas zoos. and so maybe you don't see too many of the more obscure numbats or bandicoots in zoos over there, but i haven't seen too many yapoks (a south american aquatic opossum) african otter-shrews or colugos in any zoos either!
     
  3. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    exporting endangered species

    the restrictions and difficulty surrounding the export of our native animals explains why very few of our threatened native animals ever end up in international breeding programs, besides the fact that in most cases australian zoos have any recovery processes wrapped up.
    european zoos did have programs for leadbeaters possum, and i kowarri, bettongs and striped possums are also amongst current EEP's but they really dont represent any practical conservation value.
    it beats me why OS zoos want wombats. i love wombats, but i could think of around a dozen more interesting species first.
     
  4. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    hugh?!!!

    wombats not interesting? they are only about the biggest non-macropod marsupial left in the world. they are charsimatic and freindly (well not all the time), cute and represent a very distinctive lineage of marsupials different from most others. as zoopro suggested with his comment son the most sought after species, i imagine that kangaroos, koalas, wombats, tasmaninan devils, echidnas and platypus are pretty much our equivelant of africa's "big five" (only we have six and they are not that big!)

    but its just opinion so, out of curiosity, what dozen species have you got in mind?
     
  5. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

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    nah wombats rock, they have educational value as they are related to koalas, so a terrestrial and aboreal species from common ancestor, they look kool, and can easliy have meet and greet opps with public (provided the dnt go for the shins hehe)
     
  6. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    Many issues i guess. First of all the tourist protection argument. If i would ask someone on the street for a native australian animal they would either say kangaroo or koala, and i would say that at least 50% of all europeans are within a 3 hour drive from the nearest koala exhibit, and within 30 mins from the nearest kangaroo. I think that "just" seeing the native fauna is a very small part of the reasons people go to australia, see native native fauna in their natural habitat, with the views and the sun and everything included would be the real reason. Considering the amount of african animals outside africa, the numbers of tourist in Tanzania ain't exactly dropping...(i'd say they just stimulate people...)

    I doubt it that signing any contract could be a large problem. Considering a few zoo's in the USA sign much tougher contracts with chinese people concerning giant panda's, i would say that an institution like San Diego wouldn't have a hard time signing a request like that, and with the multitude of decent zoo's outside Australia you'd say there would be at least a few good enough and willing to sign.

    About the platypus. If these animals are so hard to move, how did melbourne, sydney aquarium and healesville manage to get theirs to their centre? I also heared these rumours but as far as i know, they are from at least 50-60 years ago or even more, hardly a comparable time.

    Concerning animals like yapok's and the likes... The animals you discribed are all not only rare, but also not kept in captivity whatsoever. These would be needed to capture and then learn the husbandry with risks towards the animals, and thus can not (imo anyways) be compared to some of the rare animals in Australia that are allready kept in breeding centres, with husbandry allready well under control and allready bred well...

    Considering the strain some animals species in Australia are under, wouldn't it be handy if not wise to have an extra population outside australia just in case? What if the tasmanian devil decease spreads and also hits the population on the mainland, which would be a lot easier then spreading among european or american zoo's. Isn't Australia keeping all it's eggs in one basket?

    Last but not least. I am well aware of the fact that Australia's rules concerning export of animals serve an important purpose, and i do agree on most of the comments made by all of you. But this wouldn't be a discussion if noone defended the opposite side and to be fair, the opposite side has some strong arguments as well in my opinion anyways...

    edit: Wombats really do rock btw
     
  7. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

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    well on this, the elephants were 'exchanged' for native wildlife, and sent to new safari parks around thailand and the region.

    maybe australia wants to get something in return.

    plus i belive its the same argument as the thai protesters had, the elephants are there icon, and very highly respected in religion and asian cultures, just like us the koala and maybe even kangaroos have been held by zoos with great respect and as a sign of friendship and partner ship.

    in this i belive taronga for example holds animals, and uses them as signs of sisterhoods between zoos, americas first koalas at san diego, were a gift from taronga, and tarongas sister in japan, nagasasi (????), recived koalas as a announcment of a sisiter hood, and before the aniamls even left the country, all keepers in these zoos were trained for months, exhibits inspected by oz zoo staff etc.
     
  8. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    overseas insurance?

    jwer, clearly platypus can be moved, as you said how else did they get to the zoo? however their is a big difference between transporting an animal for a few hours and the massive amount of time it would take to move one overseas. i'm sure it could be done, but it wouldn't be easy.

    also platypus are not good breeders in zoos and many of the arguments you applied to the yapok can apply to the platypus also. certainly australians have a long history of keeping the species in captivity, but have had very few births most in recent years at just one of two institutions tarongas zoo and healesville sanctuary (melbourne zoo's native fauna park). so would it not be silly to send this fragile species OS when we have not even mastered the art of captive breeding ourselves?

    on the "overseas insurance population" argument this is 90% of the time an absolute [email protected]#%! excuse zoo's use to justify keeping exotic animals. the real reason is because we wanna see them and has very little to do with conservation breeding. captive breeding programs are a wonderful conservation tool, but keeping that breeding population overseas is almost always just a hindrance to the program with virtually no benifits whatsoever. the only scenario's were i could imagine keeping the animals in another nation would be a desireable is if A) political instability in its native country is so bad that even a captive population is not safe from the ravages of war or B) if some sort of disease epidemic has swept is native environment and natural boundaries such as seas or climate appear to be the only sure way of keeping the captive population disease free.

    which brings me to the tasmanian devils. whilst australian zoos have had numerous success' with breeding devils as far as i know no overseas zoo ever has. they remain not at easy species to maintain and with such short life cycles their is little room for error. yes the devil population is under severe threat on its native island of tasmania and yes, creating an insurance population for the species outside of this environment is a logical thing to do. however firstly as you may read in appropriately titled threads here on the forum, this hasn't proved easy so far. obviously before we even think about an overseas viable population you would think it would be best to allow the experts here in australia to try first. the disease, which appears exclusive to devils, jumping the bass straight and estblishing itself on the mainland (where there are no longer wild devils) isn't a particuarly likely scenario at this stage.

    please don't think i'm hypocritical either, i wouldn't be too keen on sumatran rhinos coming to australia either at this stage (though if they built up a good captive population i sure would!). its not that i don't think its okay to keep even an endangered species in a zoo far from its homeland. its just that i recognise that foriegn zoos have very little to offer serious conservation breeding programs when the species still hasn't established itself properly in captivity. there are however, always exemptions, but before anyone starts spinning off a list of species saved by captive populations overseas ask yourself this... is that the ideal way of doing it?

    i value endangered species so much that i would expect nothing less..

    hopefully however, that will change in the future...

    oh and on the tourist protection thing, i think thats a verty good point you make. you are probably right....
     
  9. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    Well off course, define "mastered". As far as i can see, only a handfull of australian institutions have made a sincerely serious attempt, with the current money and science level, and as far i know, all but melbourne have succeeded in breeding them (don't know about australia zoo, and how serious the conditions are at Melbourne). The main difference between platypus and some other mentioned species is that they are, as far as i know not endangered, so capturing a few wouldn't hurt the population as much as the others. I'm not saying these animals should be send by containerloads to shabby animal dealers in the USA/EUR region, but afaik not even a VERY serious and wealthy organisation would not be able to obtain a pair of platypus.

    Wouldn't that be the other way round. By that time it could be too little too late. By the time a country is ravaged by war or a population ravaged by disease you could be stuck with a non-viable population. Wouldn't it be best to identify populations that are either low or in rapid decline and act now, rather then later?

    I imagine platypus aren't the right example because if i'm correct, their population isn't in rapid decline which brings me to, indeed, the devils. If i'm correct Devils have been kept numerous times in the past outside australia. They've popped up on the species list of Amsterdam Zoo and i know they've been kept by german zoo's in the '60 and '70, and have been bred as well.

    I don't completely share your opinion that it would be best for australian scientist to try first. Since the population is on such a decline, but isn't too bad yet, wouldn't it be better if every scientist in the world would try. If the Australians fail and the numbers on Tasmania drop to >1000 it would be a much harder decision to take even more animals in captivity and then sent them to the rest of the world for them to try. If scientist are moving to and from Tasmania to me it doesn't seem that unlikely they somehow bring the disease over...

    I also don't share the opinion that semi-captivity in their homeland is the way to go neither. The sumatran rhino only reproduced twice in the last couple of years, and both where in the USA. Wouldn't it be benificial for some species to be brought to a place which can afford to create hygiene and use science. Without science, Andalas and Suci wouldn't be around and the outlook for the sumatran rhino would, in my opinion, be a lot worse...

    Is it ideal? hell no. Do i really care if species are saved under non-ideal conditions, but at least be saved? fraid not. In my opinion the list doesn't contain exemptions anymore, but slowly is showing the science level of some zoological institutions and what they can contribute to fauna. As human encroachment continues and animals are pushed back, i fear but also hope the list will grow, instead of the list with extinct animals growing.
     
  10. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    firstly wombats

    i do like wombats, ill say that again, but im also puzzled why they are so popular as exhibits. i would of thought that in terms of popularity species like koala, echidna, kangaroos, dingo would be more sought after. considering most aussies dont even know what a wombat looks like, i just dont get why OS zoos want them. however, in principle i have no problem exporting them.
    establishing overseas breeding programs to 'save' australian native fauna. baaaaa. look what happened to the leadbeaters possum program. not only do most of our marsupials have very short generation cycles, but most of the threatened species are already under protection.
    the government depts that manage these recovery programs decide which species need a captive breeding component, in which most cases involves only one or two institutions. the tasmanian devil is one of the few species in recent years to have entered in to such an intensive state of regional involvement. but with 70+ ARAZPA member institutions, im sure our region could, if it had to, manage sustainably dozens of native animal species.
    a particularly effective approach would be for each zoo to establish breeding centres for local, regional fauna and then use other zoos to build up smaller, satellite populations.
    in the case of yellow footed rock walabies, managed intensively by Zoos South Australia but held by many zoos australia wide. Eastern-barred bandicoots, managed mainly by weribee but also kept by Zoos NSW. then there are species like regent honeyeaters and bilby kept by many ARAZPA members.
    i guess if the United States of America wanted to set up a breeding program for californian condors or red wolf it wouldnt be turning to Australia, in much the same way as Europe wouldnt expect our help to conserve red squirrels. i really think its up to us western nations to help 'save' fauna from the less devloped parts of the world, most of whic seem to be biological hot spots.
    and Zoo_Boy, the japanese zoo is in Nagoya
     
  11. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    wombats

    it beats me why OS zoos want wombats. i love wombats, but i could think of around a dozen more interesting species first.

    Quote from Glyn ( I think ! )

    I have never seen a wombat in NZ . I think they look really cute , and not half as grumpy as the koala I once held ......

    Wallabies can be found wild in parts of NZ , and numerous zoos house kangaroos .
    Snakes are out of the question for NZ ( zoos or otherwise ! )
    Although Auckland zoo has gum trees , we dont know if they are the ones which koalas eat , and whether there are enough gum trees in Auckland zoo to be sustainable for any koala collection
    Possums are now a noxious pest , to the point where smaller marsupials from Australian are considered in similar light by many NZers ( "the only good possum is a dead one" argument )
    Platypus would be very expensive to house and maintain in NZs zoos
    Dingoes look too much like kelpies or other dogs that it will have limited appeal amongst NZ folk visiting a zoo in NZ
    So that basically leaves wombats .
    Despite their name , they arent bats . ( This actually surprises some people who have no real idea what a wombat looks like ! )
    They look cute and cuddly , so therefore can create some appeal in themselves
    They are not THAT selective in their diet
    They are not THAT endangered in Australia
    The wombat enclosure wont be THAT difficult for most zoos to build

    For NZ zoos , wombats would be a good choice of new Australian fauna to display . Give me wombats any day !
     
  12. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    on wombats

    yes they are cute, but they burrow, are nocturnal and sleepy. they are also grumpy, and i wouldnt reccomend cuddling one, particularly an adult.
    you could build an inexpensive enclosure for them, but the same sort of thing would suffice for koalas, or many other small marsupials. as for the dietary issue, its true they could be easily maintained on an easiy obtainable range of foodstuffs.
    the most effective way of showcasing wombats would be to either exhibit them nocturnally, which taronga used to, or build an simuated underground exhibit with holes in the walls to peek into the burrows. this still presents the wombats as sleepy, its just theyre harder to see because its so dark.
    anyway, most foreign zoos representation of australia involves a macropod walk through, lorikeets, some emus, swan, kookaburra, reptiles, sheep, camels, and lots of red dirt and some reference to aboriginals. i guess wombats wouldnt hurt one bit.
    in terms of avian fauna one species that seems really popular s the cassowary. and that to me is obvious. they kill people, look ancient, and look spectacula, plus theyre normally pretty active.
    i like them better than wombats, lol
     
  13. boof

    boof Well-Known Member

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    [QUOTE=glyn;
    "most aussies dont even know what a wombat looks like"
    Thats a pretty interesting comment. Why do you think most aussies don't know what a wombat looks like?
     
  14. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    id'e say most forieners wouldn't know what a wombat looks like, but i would have thought most australians know what they are. certainly everyone i know would recognise one and i live in the inner city. that said, i don't hang with stupid people.. ;)

    i understand what you are saying about them being nocturnal and innactive but isn't 90% of all our other fauna also? koalas do absolutely nothing most of the time.

    i love the melbourne hairy-nosed wombat exhibit (yes, and i think it absolutely rips on the tacky, noisy "mineshaft" themed one at taronga).

    the wombats, despite being in an dark, oversized, underground "burrow" are always on display and the lighting is good enough for visitors to get a good look at them. sure they may be sleeping, but much of the time so are many other zoo animals as well.

    i think they make really god exhibits. echidnas are often highly active and underutilised in my opinion. one of the most popular exhibits at melbourne was the now demolished "northern neighbours" exhibit that had a good 3 or 4 echidnas sharing a generous sized exhibit with tree-kangaroos. when the keepers were in there doing a talk the echidnas and tree-roos would get excited (wanting food) and the whole exhibit was bustling with animals. it always drew a good crowd that stuck around for a while too, just happy to watch.
     
  15. Zooish

    Zooish Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't mind having some wombats in Singapore. I'll trade u guys a couple of slow loris and mousedeer ;)

    We dropped the notion of displaying koalas because of their fussy and expensive diet, and also as mentioned they aren't very exciting displays.

    If OZ zoos are stingy about letting foreign zoos acquire their native fauna, then what would you call China? No other specie in captivity today commands a higher price tag than the iconic giant pandas.
     
  16. ZooPro

    ZooPro Well-Known Member

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    I'd have to agree (mostly) with Glyn, about wombats generally making crap exhibits, although they are one of my favourite animals (hand-raise a few, and you'll know why :) ).

    Often though, they are put into small, poorly-designed exhibits, making a species that is relatively inactive during the day, an even duller display. But with one exception - the wombat exhibit at Australia Zoo.

    I've been to all the major zoos in the region, and most of the smaller ones too, and this is by far the best wombat exhibit I've seen anywhere. It's a large grassed and planted exhibit (ok, it's a bit like a bowling green in places, but that's probably due to the natural lawn mowers!), with areas for the animals to dig, and a load of dens at the back. (I'll forgive the hose draped across the front of the exhibit in this photo - there was a keeper in there filling up a pool).


    [​IMG]


    The exhibit is huge (the photo above shows only about 1/3 of the exhibit), and offers a great close-up interaction with the visitors. It's also prety typical of the habitat the animals generally live in.


    [​IMG]


    When the animals are in the dens, visitors can walk through an artificial wombat burrow, with tree roots descending from above, and scratch marks along the walls of the burrow. The animals can be seen in a number of dens, and as Pat said, they pretty much sleep all day in their natural state, and so visitors get to see them exhibiting typical behaviour for the time of day.

    This exhibit gets the big thumbs up from me!
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2007
  17. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Australian animals in non Australia zoos

    Thank you to whoever mentioned echidnas .
    I concede on that point -- they would make an excellent feature for a zoo , without TOO much costings or problems ....
    The wombat enclosure was half opened in operation when I went to Australia Zoo a few years ago , and I must agree that it was the best wombat enclosure that I had come across at that point . Its great that they now have made it even better !
    Perhaps Bindi and co. could hand raise some wombats that will eventually be sent to foreign zoos ? That would be so kool , as zooboy puts it .
    I agree that koalas are about the dullest exhibits out , and when they are not active ( from what I gather -- about 99% of the time during daylight hours anyway ? ) they are next to useless as far as creating their own appeal for zoos .....
    I also enjoy cassarowies ( however its spelt correctly ) but a couple of hand raised wombats that can be handled by keepers while they give a talk will have a lot more appeal to NZers than large birds ( even if they do look ancient ) As NZ has very few animal species with 4 feet , these are more of an attraction for us in zoos than yet more birds . And any "foreign" animal that is half tame creates intense interest ( and for the British , Dutch , NZer , American , Singaporean etc amongst us , wombats are well & truly foreign !)

    If only I could send each of you a kiwi for your nearest zoos nocturnal house . Just watch the attendance numbers soar !!
     
  18. ZooPro

    ZooPro Well-Known Member

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    Hey Nigel, I'm not sure if you meant that as a joke, but sorry, it would be so unkool [sic].

    There's no valid reason for hand-raising animals just for the sake of it. Professional zoos should only be hand-raising animals if they are orphans or mismothered. Of course, zoos that have animal shows like to have hand-raised animals so they are easier to work with, but this isn't generally the case with wombats.

    Hand-raised wombats turn into very mean, nasty, aggressive animals - ask anyone who has raised them, or any keeper who has had to work with adult hand-raised animals. What possible benefit, other than inappropriate PR value, would there be to have Bindi hand-raising animals?

    I have no objections to wombats being sent to overseas zoos, but not hand-raised animals. They are a management nightmare! :eek:
     
  19. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    for a long time the consensus here has been that australia zoo has an awesome wombat exhibit.

    but forgive me as the artist in me takes over -

    because from an artistic point of view (because i always have one) it looks atrocious from all the photos i've seen. like zoopro said, a bowling green with a complete overkill of mockrock (as generic as can be - grey and boulderous - austrlaia zoo has a permanant concrete sculptor on staff and i think they overdo it to keep him employed!). the underground cave looks pretty shithouse to me too. melbourne has real rocks and tree roots coming out of their shot-crete walled cave (that creates a more natural "crumbling-type" texture. i gotta say from much of the photos i've seen australia zoo looks really pretty tacky. i know steve was really proud of designing all his own exhibits, but its certainly not the zoos strongpoint. think they need to hire portico.

    the new elephant exhibit has the "ingenious" feature of concrete dead butressed roots with live ficus trees planted in the top. sure a great idea, if you can do it properly and ten bucks says it looks like concrete tubs. nup, i'm not into it. i should start a new business....
     
  20. ZooPro

    ZooPro Well-Known Member

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    I totally agree with everything you've said Patrick. The difference is (and I'm not a major Australia Zoo supporter here), that Australia Zoo does do everything inhouse, and pours a truckload of money into real in situ conservation. Melbourne Zoo pays Portico and their shot-crete contractors a truckload of money, and doesn't have much left to pour into real in situ conservation. I'm not saying they don't do any, but I am saying that they spend a multitude more on exhibits than Australia Zoo does.

    And does the average mum and dad public and the kids notice the difference in the two different concrete effects? I doubt it.
     
    Last edited: 26 Jan 2007