The Territory Wildlife Park has been thrown an 11th-hour lifeline, days before several exhibits were slated to close.
- The Territory Wildlife Park has been given a one-off $900,000 after fears exhibits would close imminently
- Stakeholders have been kept happy, but the opposition has called it a desperate move that kicks the can down the road
- Experts say euthanising animals is “rarely necessary” following reports that animals may be culled
Several attractions were speculated to end this month after cracks appeared in the park’s finances.
But NT Parks Minister Selena Uibo announced a one-off $900,000 payment for the Territory Wildlife Park at the same time as $300,000 for the Alice Springs Desert Park.
“We have listened to Territorians and [this] announcement absolutely guarantees there will be no immediate changes to the operations of the Territory Wildlife Park,” she said.
Ms Uibo labelled the funds “COVID payments” but failed to confirm what it meant or how the cash-strapped government accessed the money.
She confirmed that the closure of some exhibits had been discussed.
“It is our Labor government priority to keep the park open,” she told ABC Radio Darwin.
“All options, all avenues are explored to see how the park can be sustained in the long run, but also how do we improve the visitor experience and all of that work is being done currently,” Ms Uibo said.
She refused to be drawn on answering how many staff hours or positions had been cut.
‘Not fooling anyone’
Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said the government had been caught on the back foot.
“This is nothing more than a desperate political move on the eve of a by-election and does nothing more than kick the fate of the wildlife park, under Labor, down the road,” she said.
“The CLP busted Labor in its tracks this week and exposed their secret plan to gut the wildlife park from underneath everyone’s nose.
“Today’s failure by Labor to rule out more cuts following their band-aid ‘one-off’ payment is not fooling anyone.”
Former zookeeper of 20 years, Greg Mayo was buoyed by the community support for the park.
“People [see] the Territory Wildlife Park plays a really important role in supporting, learning, and doing things to make the environment a better place.”
Zoo and Aquarium Association executive director Nicola Craddock has been in contact with the park should animals need to be relocated following earlier speculation that some animals would be “disposed of”.
“There are a number of options that a zoo would explore first and euthanasia would usually only be considered as the very last resort. This is rarely necessary,” she said.