State-of-the-art Platypus Rescue HQ opens in Dubbo

The world’s largest purpose-built platypus conservation centre, Platypus Rescue HQ, has been opened at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo on Wiradjuri Country, providing a world-class refuge for wild platypus.

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) swimming around.

The state-of-the-art centre can house up to 65 platypus during severe environmental events such as droughts, bushfires and floods.

The facility combines rescue and rehabilitation facilities, a research centre to study platypus behaviour and a pre-release area to prepare recovered platypus for return to the wild.

It also houses a public, purpose-built platypus habitat, where guests will be able to see and learn more about this cryptic monotreme for the first time at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. It will provide behind-the-scenes insight into modern conservation and research.

Construction of the new $12.1 million Platypus Rescue HQ facility has been jointly funded by the NSW Government, Taronga Conservation Society Australia and philanthropic donors.

The platypus is one of the world’s last remaining monotremes, and like many other Australian wildlife, is susceptible to the impacts of climate change and habitat loss. Platypus Rescue HQ will allow researchers and staff to refine the conservation strategy for platypus by filling knowledge gaps across the species’ breeding behaviour, biology and genetics.

The new centre will see cutting-edge research delivered in partnership with the University of NSW’s Centre for Ecosystem Science thanks to support from San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and WIRES.

Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Penny Sharpe said:

'It’s wonderful to see the doors officially open for a centre that is going to support the future of the platypus – a much-loved and iconic Australian animal.

'We’re committed to supporting the population of this species, protecting them from the impacts of climate change and habitat loss, and preserving their numbers in the wild for years to come.

'That’s why it’s important to have a facility like Platypus Rescue HQ, with the ability to research and rescue platypus and use features like a pre-release creek to help with their rehabilitation before they’re released back into the wild.'

Treasurer of NSW Daniel Mookhey said:

'The NSW Government is committed to supporting state-of-the-art preparedness facilities like this in our regions, that not only provide benefits to our native wildlife but also to our regional economies.

'The construction of Platypus Rescue HQ supported local and regional businesses and sub-contractors during the project, resulting in over 36,500 hours of work, including 8612 apprentice hours.

'78 percent of the overall build was completed by local or regionally based contractors, providing an economic boost to local businesses.'

Minister for Regional NSW Tara Moriarty said:

'The opening of the Platypus Rescue HQ at Taronga Western Plains Zoo is an important day for regional NSW.

'We expect there will be an increase in visitors to the area to see this iconic species in a natural-like environment.

'The new centre has also created jobs for the region during the construction and will enable the zoo to bring on additional employees. Multiple graduate and post-graduate student projects will also be supported.'

Taronga Conservation Society Australia CEO Cameron Kerr AO said:

'Shy and enigmatic, platypus are the silent victims of climate change, with their decline largely hidden from public view.

'This new, purpose-built facility will bring together global experts, paving the way to truly understand this cryptic species and ensure our emblem species can not only survive, but thrive in the wild.

'We’re so grateful for the support of the NSW Government, as well as our generous donors including San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and WIRES, who have enabled this vision to become a reality and for our guests to come eye-to-eye with a platypus and see conservation in action.'