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Platypuses in Captivity

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Dannelboyz, 13 Jul 2020.

  1. Dannelboyz

    Dannelboyz Well-Known Member

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    Platypuses in Captivity

    This thread aims to provide a detailed summary of current and historical platypus holders, as well as a list of all individual platypuses currently living in captivity. I will also list important breeding events.

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    Current holders

    There are currently ten platypus holders in the world caring for a total of 28 platypuses (12 males, 16 females). Of these, 15 hatched in the wild and 13 were captive-bred. This does not include temporary holdings of rescued animals.

    · Healesville Sanctuary, Victoria, Australia (2.7)

    · Taronga Zoo, New South Wales, Australia (2.2)

    · Melbourne Zoo, Victoria, Australia (1.0)

    · David Fleay Wildlife Park, Queensland, Australia (1.0)

    · Australian Reptile Park, New South Wales, Australia (1.0)

    · Lone Pine Koala Park, Queensland, Australia (2.0)

    · Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre, Queensland, Australia (1.0)

    · Platypus House, Tasmania, Australia (1.4)

    · WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, New South Wales, Australia (0.2)

    · San Diego Zoo Safari Park, California, United States (1.1)

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    List of platypuses in captivity

    Healesville Sanctuary: 9 platypuses (2 males, 5 females)
    Healesville Sanctuary has held platypuses since 1933 and is both the largest current holder and the most successful breeder ever. They were the first platypus breeders when director David Fleay bred a female platypus, Corrie, in 1943. Corrie was named after the Coranderrk, the site upon which the sanctuary sits.
    • Fleay: wild-born female. Healesville, Victoria. 26 years of age.
      At 26 years of age, Fleay (named after David Fleay) is the oldest platypus at the sanctuary and the oldest platypus ever recorded. She is the smaller of the two platypuses on display in the Platypus House (in the second tank from the left) and was caught in the Coranderrk Creek along with her sister who is no longer alive.

    • Binarri: captive-born female. 2002 at Taronga. 17 years of age.
      Binarri was one of the first platypuses born at Taronga Zoo, along with her sister Samantha. At Healesville, she is kept off-display in the breeding pools. She has been breeding since 2007 and has successfully mothered 10 offspring, half of all platypuses ever bred in captivity.

    • Millsom: wild-born male. Thorpdale, Victoria. 17 years of age.
      Millsom is kept on display in the last tank of the platypus house. He is a male who was rescued alongside his brother, Thorpie, when a farmer dug them up while extending a dam in Thorpdale. He was the first hand-reared platypus, being fed echidna milk as a substitute for platypus milk which could not be obtained at the time. He is a very playful platypus and regularly makes appearances in the show. Thorpie did not survive long in captivity.

    • Waddirang: captive-born female. 2007 at Healesville. 12 years of age.
      Waddirang (indigenous name for platypus) is the other female kept in the breeding pools. She was bred at the sanctuary in 2007 and along with her brother Burran was the first second-generation captive-bred platypus. In 2019, she successfully raised a daughter, Storm, who is the very first third-generation captive-bred platypus.

    • Ember: captive-born female. 2008 at Healesville. 11 years of age.
      Ember is the third offspring of Binarri and Barak. She was born in 2008 but emerged a week before the Black Saturday bushfires in February, 2009. She is generally off-display but does occasionally appear in the shows and platypus encounters.

    • Tarrabi: wild-born male. Gosford, New South Wales. 10 years of age.
      Tarrabi was a rehab animal from Gosford in New South Wales. Although rehab platypuses are typically released, Healesville Sanctuary was given permission to keep him in order to improve the genetics of the captive population. He is currently kept in the breeding pools where he has been bred with Waddirang and Binarri. He has sired a total of seven young, making him the most successful breeding male platypus.

    • Yamacoona: wild-born female. Raymond Island, Victoria. 9 years of age.
      Yami was found washed out of her burrow on Raymond Island, Victoria, in 2011. At the time she was less than a third of her current weight and was not fully weaned, so she has been partially hand-raised. She is kept off display but is a regular participant in platypus shows. She is also often used for the Wade with the Platypus experience because she is very friendly with people.

    • Alooka: captive-born female. 2011 at Healesville. 8 years of age.
      Alooka and her brother Birrarung (the male platypus who was sent to San Diego Zoo Safari Park last year) were the first offspring sired by Tarrabi. She is the fourth platypus that sometimes appears in platypus shows.

    • Storm: captive-born female. 2019 at Healesville. 0 years of age.
      Storm was born late last year but emerged from her burrow on a stormy day in 2020. She is the daughter or Waddirang and Tarrabi, making her the first successful third-generation captive-bred platypus.

    Taronga Zoo
    : 4 platypuses (2 males, 1 female, 1 unknown)
    Having held platypuses since 1934, Taronga Zoo is the second major holder of platypuses historically. Alongside Healesville Sanctuary, it is one of the only facilities to have successfully bred platypuses in captivity. Currently, Taronga Zoo are the third largest holder behind Healesville Sanctuary and Platypus House, with four platypuses in permanent enclosures. However, it is worth noting that the zoo does regularly take in rescues and recently returned seven platypuses to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
    • Annie: wild-born female. New South Wales. 25 years of age.
      Annie first arrived at Taronga Zoo in 1995 as a baby after she was rescued from a dog attack. When she arrived, keepers did not think that she would survive the night. However she not only survived the night, but is still living as the oldest platypus at Taronga and the second oldest platypus ever recorded.

    • Mackenzie: captive-born male. 2000 at Healesville. 19 years of age.
      Mackenzie was the fourth platypus successfully bred in captivity and the second oldest captive-bred platypus alive today. He was named after Sir Colin Mackenzie, the founder of Healesville Sanctuary where he was born.

    • Trey: wild-born male. Birthplace unknown. ~19 years of age.
      Trey was wild-born but came to Taronga from another zoo (presumably either Melbourne Zoo or Healesville Sanctuary). According to staff, he is of a “similar age” to Mackenzie.

    • Morundah: wild-born female. Morundah, New South Wales. Age unknown.
      I am unable to find much information on Morundah, but she is wild-born and I believe she arrived at the zoo recently from Morundah, New South Wales.

    Melbourne Zoo: 1 platypus (male)
    Melbourne Zoo has held platypuses since 1937. In recent years, they have only held males. They have a single display tank and currently keep just one male.
    • Sam: captive-born male. 2004 at Taronga. 15 years of age.
      Sam was the fifth platypus bred at Taronga Zoo. At the time he emerged, Taronga Zoo was the most successful platypus-breeding facility in the world. He has been kept at Melbourne Zoo since 2006.

    David Fleay Wildlife Park: 1 platypus (male)
    David Fleay Wildlife Park have held platypuses since 1952. The creator of the park, David Fleay, was the pioneer of platypus husbandry, being the first person to have bred platypuses in captivity when Corrie hatched at Healesville Sanctuary. In 1972, a young platypus was found dead outside its burrow, making David Fleay Wildlife Park the second zoo to have hatched a platypus.
    • Wally: wild-born male. Mount Warning, New South Wales. 7 years of age.
      Wally was found as an injured and underweight young platypus in January, 2014 near Mount Warning, New South Wales. He was brought into care at David Fleay Wildlife Park and has been there since.

    Australian Reptile Park: 1 platypus (male)
    The Australian Reptile Park have kept platypuses since 1968.
    • Yaro: captive-born male. 2015 at Healesville. 4 years of age.
      Yaro and his brother Wilam are the most recent offspring of Binarri and Tarrabi from Healesville Sanctuary.

    Lone Pine Koala Park: 2 platypuses (males)
    Lone Pine Koala Park first started keeping platypuses in 1972. They stopped holding platypuses through the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s until the arrival of Barak. They now keep two males.
    • Barak: captive-born male. 1998 at Healesville. 21 years of age.
      At 21 years of age, Barak is the oldest male platypus in captivity and the oldest captive-bred platypus still living today. He came to Lone Pine from Healesville where he and his twin brother Yarra Yarra were the second and third captive-bred platypuses ever. At the time, they were the first successful captive-bred platypuses in over 50 years. Yarra Yarra unfortunately struggled with arthritis as a result of a fractured hip. He died at 249 days of age, weighing half as much as Barak.

    • Aroona: captive-born male. 2012 at Healesville. 7 years of age.
      Aroona was one of two platypuses which hatched at Healesville in 2012, although his brother does not appear to be alive and I cannot find any information on his identity.

    Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre: 1 platypus (male)
    Walkabout Creek has held platypuses since 1992. They recently held two platypuses, Burran and Wilam, who were both captive-bred at Healesville Sanctuary. Only one of these is now held there so the other must have died. Unfortunately, I have been unable to contact Walkabout Creek to find which of the two it is. As such, both are listed here.
    • Burran: captive-born male. 2007 at Healesville. 12 years of age.
      Burran is the brother of Waddirang, offspring of Binarri and Barak.

    • Wilam: captive-born male. 2015 at Healesville. 4 years of age.
      Wilam is the brother of Yaro, offspring of Binarri and Tarrabi.

    Platypus House: 5 platypuses (1 male, 4 females)
    Platypus House is the second-largest platypus holder with five platypuses. All these platypuses are wild-born from Tasmania, so are the only Tasmanian platypuses in captivity as far as I’m aware (note that no platypus subspecies are typically accepted, but some evidence indicates that Tasmanian platypuses are genetically distinct). According to the Platypus House, ages are unknown but all five individuals are between 2 and 15 years of age.
    • Jupiter: wild-born male. Tasmania. Age unknown.
      Jupiter is the only male at Platypus House. He is housed with his mate, Dawn.

    • Dawn: wild-born female. Tasmania. Age unknown.

    • Poppy: wild-born female. Tasmania. Age unknown.
      Poppy is housed with Freya.

    • Freya: wild-born female. Tasmania. Age unknown.

    • Pumpkin: wild-born female. Tasmania. Age unknown.
      Pumpkin is the newest platypus to be housed at Platypus House. It is unclear whether she is housed with the other females or on her own.

    WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo: 2 platypuses (females)
    WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo acquired their platypuses from SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium in February, 2016.
    • Zoey: wild-born female. Birthplace unknown. 24 years of age.
      Zoey is one of the oldest platypuses in captivity. She has been housed with Jackie for many years, both at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

    • Jackie: wild-born female. Birthplace unknown. 16 years of age.

    San Diego Zoo Safari Park: 2 platypuses (1 male, 1 female)
    San Diego Zoo Safari Park acquired a male and female platypus from Taronga Zoo in November, 2019. These are the first platypuses held outside Australia in over 60 years. Depending on the validity of former European holdings, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Bronx Zoo may be the only zoos outside of Australia to have ever held platypuses.
    • Eve: captive-born female. 2003 at Taronga Zoo. 16 years of age.
      Eve is 16 years of age. She was one of the twins born to Maryanne and Abby in Taronga’s second successful clutch along with her brother Adam who is no longer alive. At the time of Adam and Eve’s emergence, they were the only known twin platypuses of opposite sex. Eve is also the younger sister of Birrarung’s mother, Binarri, making her Birrarung’s aunt.

    • Birrarung: captive-born male. 2011 at Healesville. 8 years of age.
      “Birrarung” is the traditional name of the Yarra River in Melbourne, one of the major rivers near his birthplace at Healesville Sanctuary. He is the twin brother of Alooka, who is still held at Healesville Sanctuary along with their parents.

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  2. Dannelboyz

    Dannelboyz Well-Known Member

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    Confirmed historical holders

    Bronx Zoo is the only zoo outside of Australia to have kept platypuses. Several Australian zoos have previously held rescue platypuses, but only those mentioned in the previous and current sections have displayed them.

    Bronx Zoo, New York, United States
    Bronx Zoo has held a total of seven platypuses over three separate time periods (1922, 1947-1957, 1958-1959). Prior to the arrival of platypuses at San Diego last year, Bronx Zoo was probably the only platypus holder outside of Australia ever. The first platypus arrival was a male on 14th July 1922 that died on 30th August 1922. On 25th April 1947, Cecil (male), Penelope and Betty (females) were brought to the US by David Fleay. Betty died of cold soon after her arrival. In 1953, Penelope was showing signs of nesting but never laid any eggs. She died on 1st August 1957 and Cecil died on 18th September 1957. Another male and two females were brought to Bronx Zoo on 7th June 1958 and all died within a year. The last platypus held at Bronx died on 25th March 1959.

    SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, New South Wales, Australia
    The Sydney Aquarium held platypuses from 1997 to 2016. They have held at least three platypuses: Nada, Jackie and Zoey. Nada is no longer alive, while Jackie and Zoey have since moved to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo.


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    Unconfirmed historical holders

    Claims have been made from a number of sources that several European zoos have also historically held platypuses. It appears that these claims are largely a result of translation errors. All claims are listed here for reference.

    Budapest Zoo, Hungary
    According to Australian Mammals: Biology and Captive Management (Jackson et al., 2007), platypus were kept from 1913-1917?. This animal was actually a Long-beaked Echidna and was probably translated incorrectly.

    Frankfurt Zoo, Germany
    According to The Zoological Gardens of Europe (Peel, 1903), platypuses were kept in Frankfurt Zoo and the author claimed to have seen them himself: “There are also three species of wombats (Perameles), including Phascolomys wombat, P. latifrons, belidens, echidna, etc. There is a duck-billed platypus, and a squirrel as big as a cat.” Given the poor wording and inaccuracy of the genera assigned to several species in Peel’s statement, the reference to a platypus is likely to be a translational error. It is probable that the references to echidna and platypus were actually for the same animal, an echidna that arrived at Frankfurt in 1897. It is also worth noting that Frankfurt Zoo have published annual reports since 1858 in which the most important animal acquisitions are listed and no platypus is ever mentioned in these.

    Leipzig Zoo, Germany
    According to The Zoological Gardens of Europe (Peel, 1903), platypuses were kept at Leipzig in 1899. The author never saw this animal himself and this reference was most likely caused by a translational error for an echidna.

    Rotterdam Zoo, Netherlands
    Rotterdam Zoo is one of two European zoos currently listed by Zootierliste as a former holder. The site's reference is listed as Australian Mammals: Biology and Captive Management (Jackson et al., 2007), but the only European zoo actually mentioned in this source is Budapest Zoo (see above).

    London Zoo, UK
    London Zoo was previously listed on Zootierliste as a former holder, however this reference was not of a live specimen.


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    Platypus breeding timeline

    Platypus eggs have been laid in captivity on at least 25 occasions (this may not be a complete list). On 15 occasions, platypuses hatched successfully to produce a total of 22 young. Of these, 20 survived through lactation and 13 are still alive today.

    Healesville Sanctuary - Jill (female) and Jack (male)
    1943: Corrie (female)
    1944: eggs

    Taronga Zoo - unknown parents
    1971 – eggs

    David Fleay Wildlife Park - Penny (female)
    1972: very young offspring found dead at burrow entrance
    1974: eggs
    1975: eggs
    1976: eggs

    Taronga Zoo - Lightbill (female)
    1987: eggs

    Healesville Sanctuary - Koorina (female) and N (male)
    1998: Barak (male) and Yarra Yarra (male)
    2000: Mackenzie (male)

    Taronga Zoo - Maryanne (female) and Abby (male)
    2002: Samantha (female) and Binarri (female)
    2003: Adam (male) and Eve (female)
    2004: Sam (male)

    Healesville Sanctuary - Binarri (female) and Barak (male)
    2007: Burran (male) and Waddirang (female)
    2008: Ember (female)
    2009: unknown (male)

    Healesville Sanctuary - Binarri (female) and Tarrabi (male)
    2011: Birrarung (male) and Alooka (female)
    2012: Aroona (male) and unknown (male)
    2014: a single offspring died at 90 days of age
    2015: Wilam (male) and Yaro (male)
    2017: two eggs

    Healesville Sanctuary - Waddirang (female) and Tarrabi (male)
    2015: two eggs
    2016: one egg
    2017: two eggs
    2019: Storm (female)


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    Sources and further reading

    Zoochat Discussion:
    Why no platypus in zoos outside Australia?

    Australasian Zookeeping, Jackson et al.:
    http://www.australasianzookeeping.org/Husbandry Manuals/Platypus Husbandry Manual s.pdf

    Jess Thomas PhD Thesis:
    https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/bitstream/handle/11343/217187/Breeding biology of the platypus_final submission_JThomas_PhD thesis_2018.pdf

    Jackson, 2002:
    https://www.researchgate.net/public...breeding_of_platypus_Ornithorhynchus_anatinus

    Bronx Zoo Platypus:
    Flashback: Platypuses at The Bronx Zoo

    Low success rates of captive platypuses in 1900s:
    The Survival of Platypuses in Captivity - PubMed
     
    Last edited: 13 Jul 2020
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  3. Valentin

    Valentin Well-Known Member

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    Can we hope to see this species develop outside Australia in the years to come?
     
  4. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    I very much doubt it...!
     
  5. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    I doubt it, too. Possibly a couple others in the US could get animals if the pair at San Diego breeds, but I highly doubt any more will get exported.
     
  6. Bib Fortuna

    Bib Fortuna Well-Known Member

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    Wow, you put a lot of effort into it and invested a lot of time to create this exhibition.

    Thank you for that, I appreciate it very much, because such detailed information and statements are always very helpful for my own research.

    And there is really not much information about the keeping and breeding of platypus in human care. Why don't you make an article out of it, maybe for the "Grapevine"? They would be happy about it, and in Australia you are sitting at the source for information and photos about platypus ...

    So, thanks again for this great work, I didn't know about 95% of it yet ... Unfortunately, the platypus is still one of the species that I have never seen in living form ..
     
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  7. Bib Fortuna

    Bib Fortuna Well-Known Member

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    The animals are probably too old for that. They initially act as test objects. Should the park prove itself in keeping, they will certainly get a breedable couple in the future.
     
  8. DaLilFishie

    DaLilFishie Well-Known Member

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    I saw the platypus at Sydney Sea Life back when they still had them. Very cool animals. It's a shame that more zoos and aquariums don't keep them, likely due to them being difficult to obtain, and not a lot being known about their care.
     
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  9. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Some photos of the very first Platypus ever brough alive outside Australia, at the Bronx Zoo :

    platypus bronx zoo july 2022.png
    platypus new york zoo july 1922.png

    Both photos from July 1922 ( no copyrights on these anymore )
     
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  10. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    And a photo of the sign used at the Zoological Society of New York in 1922 :

    platypus new york sign 1922.png
    ( no copyrights anymore on this one )
     
  11. EternalPigeon

    EternalPigeon Well-Known Member

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    I was lucky enough to see platypuses on my vacation in Sydney at the Taronga Zoo. :)
     
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  12. RatioTile

    RatioTile Well-Known Member

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    Are all the currently captive platypodes kept under reverse lighting? If so, that makes for a real photography challenge.
     
  13. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Fascinating history captured in that photograph!
     
  14. DaLilFishie

    DaLilFishie Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about other aquariums, but when I saw the platypodes at Sydney Sea Life Aquarium (back when they still had them) they were kept under normal lighting. They were surprisingly active despite the light. I don't think I took any photos of the platypodes or the exhibit they were kept in, but I found a video online of them
     
  15. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    No; some facilities house their Platypus in darkened houses, some under regular lighting, and some outside. Platypus aren't actually nocturnal - depending on which part of Australia, time of year, and probably other variables, wild Platypus can be diurnal, crepuscular, nocturnal, or cathemeral.
     
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  16. AWP

    AWP Well-Known Member

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    I saw my first platypus in a darkened house in Melbourne Zoo. The ones I saw in Taronga (one) and Wildlife (two) were kept in enclosures with more but not regular lighting. Light wasn't the real photography challenge for me, but their quick swimming was. There is also an outside enclosure in the Blue Mountain Aviary in Taronga, but I didn't see a platypus out there.
     
    Last edited: 17 Sep 2020
  17. AWP

    AWP Well-Known Member

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    There was a panel with historical information in or at the Echidna House when I visited the zoo and platypus was never kept in Budapest.
     
  18. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    This may be taking this thread off on a bit of a tangent and may be a bit morbid but I'm curious about something.

    Has there ever been any incidences of keepers being envenomated by captive platypus ?
     
  19. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    In the wild, I have only seen platypuses during daylight.
     
  20. Dannelboyz

    Dannelboyz Well-Known Member

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    There have been very few incidences of any platypuses envenomating humans and I've never heard of a keeper being envenomated. Envemonation is only an issue during breeding season, so most keepers are particularly careful with handling at this time of year. Apparently, it is extremely painful, with sensitivity lasting for weeks/months afterwards but it is not fatal.