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New international agreement to see three zoos throw combined weight behind conservation plans

By Glynis Quinlan 11 September 2018 0

Mike Barclay from Singapore Wildlife Reserves, Karen Fifield from Wellington Zoo Trust and Richard Tindale from the National Zoo & Aquarium signing the new MOU. Photo: Supplied.

The National Zoo & Aquarium has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wellington Zoo and Singapore Wildlife Reserves which will see the zoos throw their combined weight behind conservation programs and initiatives to improve animal welfare.

The international agreement between the cities signed yesterday (10 September) at Canberra’s zoo is billed as creating an unprecedented level of cooperation and sharing between the three wildlife organisations.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr attended yesterday’s signing with National Zoo & Aquarium director Richard Tindale, Mandai Park Holdings Group CEO Mike Barclay and Wellington Zoo Trust CEO, Karen Fifield.

He said the MOU focuses on animal conservation and environmental security, with the institutions agreeing to eight key activities, including to:

  • partner in conservation projects of mutual interest;
  • conduct joint workshops or roadshows to promote animal welfare;
  • cooperate to deliver staff training;
  • offer staff exchanges; and
  • share information such as animal care manuals, conservation and sustainability processes.

“This MOU is a significant milestone for the National Zoo & Aquarium and reaffirms its position as a world-leading wildlife facility,” Mr Barr said.

“The National Zoo and Aquarium this year celebrated 20 years of operation and I have no doubt this partnership will help it attract more visitors and a love of animals in locals and visitors alike.”

Chief Minister Andrew Barr with Solo the cheetah at the zoo yesterday. Photo: Supplied.

The MoU is effective for five years, with a planned annual review.

National Zoo & Aquarium director Richard Tindale said the zoo is delighted to be formalising its relationship with two of the world’s leading zoos, Singapore Zoo (operated by Singapore Wildlife Reserves) and Wellington Zoo.

“We look forward to working closely with both institutions on important, future conservation projects as well as the opportunity to share knowledge and skills between our like-minded institutions and staff,” Mr Tindale said.

Wellington Zoo Chief Executive Karen Fifield said her zoo is committed to deepening its relationship with two fellow progressive zoos.

“This partnership enables us to put our combined weight behind conservation programs, sustainability initiatives and advancing animal welfare in our zoos,” Ms Fifield said.

Mandai Park Holdings Group CEO Mike Barclay said the collaboration will allow his organisation to share its expertise in running open zoo exhibits, and to encourage participation in its training programs and international conferences. It will also enable the three zoos to work together on conservation initiatives throughout Southeast Asia.

“In turn, we look forward to learning best practices from National Zoo & Aquarium and Wellington Zoo with respect to animal welfare, sustainable operations, education programs and enhancing guest experience,” Mr Barclay said.

Mr Barr compared the partnership between the zoos with the successful pairing of the National Zoo’s male cheetah cub Solo with a Border Collie/Belgian Malinois puppy named Zama when both were one-month old.

A still from a video of Solo and Zama playing together in March this year (video supplied by the National Zoo & Aquarium).

As his name suggests, Solo was a rare single-birth cub and has been raised by two specialist keepers because his mother couldn’t produce milk for just one cub. Zama was recruited as Solo’s stand-in sibling and the two have been the best of friends ever since.

“This unlikely pairing has been a great success for both Solo and the Zoo’s cheetah breeding and preservation program,” Mr Barr said.

“I’m sure we will see a similar success in this regional partnership.”


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