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Zoos SA to Cease Business Operations at Warrawong

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I would like to take this opportunity to advise you that Zoos South Australia will cease business operations at Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary effective 1 March.

In line with the Zoos SA 5-Year Business Plan, introduced in July 2012, the ZSA executive team in conjunction with the Board began a detailed assessment of our business operations, which included reviewing the business at Warrawong. A number of scenarios were considered and ultimately the decision came down to the fact that we are no longer in position to realise a sustainable return on investment from the property.

As many would be aware ZSA began business operations at Warrawong in June 2010 in partnership with the Ngarrindjeri people, who own the Warrawong land, with a vision to grow key revenue streams.

At the time of acquisition growing accommodation, function and conference revenue and increasing educational visits was key to the success of Warrawong. We recently received advice from the Adelaide Hills Council that we're unable to use an educational facility, which provides overnight accommodation for school groups, and the use of our bush cabins and café area would have significant restrictions during the Fire Danger Season, 1 December to 30 April each year, unless a refuge building is constructed.

This period accounts for approximately 51% of our accommodation revenue, and on top of the revenue loss associated to the education accommodation, we can no longer absorb the loss nor afford the sizable investment and necessary infrastructure needed to upgrade the existing facilities.

Our number one priority now is to ensure a smooth transition for our staff. I'm pleased to say we're in a position to absorb some of the Warrawong staff into similar roles across the organisation and will provide additional support to all staff where required.

Animal welfare is an important part of the transition period. Animals currently residing at Warrawong that Zoos SA introduced to the property or that require special care will be relocated to Adelaide or Monarto Zoo. This includes all kangaroos, wallabies, bettongs and quokkas as well as all presentation animals including caged birds, insects and reptiles. Once relocated we will be able to continue important conservation work with these endangered Australian species.

The platypus will remain on site as they are completely self-reliant, thriving at Warrawong well before ZSA took over management of the site, and are not dependent on special care. We will work with the Ngarrindjeri people to ensure their ongoing welfare and associated permits are transferred accordingly.

Throughout the assessment of our operations at Warrawong we have worked closely with the Ngarrindjeri and they have been informed of our decision to cease business operations. As the legal owners of the land it is ultimately up to them to consider options for the future use of the site.

To ensure a smooth transition for all involved we will maintain regular contact with the Ngarrindjeri people and both parties will continue to enjoy a close working relationship through the successful Aboriginal Learning on Country program running at Monarto Zoo.

This decision was not made lightly and I hope the public understands the decision to cease our business operations at Warrawong is about creating a more sustainable operating model for ZSA designed to ensure our future prosperity and growth.

 

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