As we are all aware, the largest bushfire emergency in Australia’s history has resulted in the disastrous loss of life, thousands of homes, millions of hectares of habitat, and more than 1 billion native animals. Even on the south coast, nearly 900 homes were destroyed south of Batemans Bay with more than 350 of these in our local area. As I write this today, the seaside towns of Bermagui and Narooma are under threat. Today, the news will go public that the bird park will close its doors. Our last day will be February 14, 2020.
The emotional stress on us both has been immense! Since the Tathra 2018 fires, the bird park has been at risk several times and forced evacuations of only part of the collection while leaving the rest, has taken its toll on our mental well-being. The safety and well-being of the birds has always been our highest priority, and since these fires, we have acknowledged that we just can’t guarantee the welfare of the sanctuary’s residents any longer, particularly given that the bird park is not defendable from the types of fires we have seen in recent weeks.
Like many businesses on the NSW south coast, the bird park also relied heavily on the large numbers of tourists that normally visit the region over the summer holidays, to enable us to survive through the rest of the year. For many, January accounts for 70% of their yearly income. But with a full tourist evacuation ordered by the NSW Rural Fire Service for the entire south coast, the tourists who had just arrived in the region, left. The ban has since been lifted, but few tourists have returned. The sanctuary was very successful in the 4 1/2 years that it was open and our family is extremely proud of our achievements. Presenting a new model on how we can learn about wildlife, the bird park had large walk-in planted aviaries where the birds have adapted to people and so up close and personal encounters with endangered species were common. Our many breeding programs were also highly successful and our work with conservation and education is very well respected. More than 70,000 people have visited the sanctuary since it opened in 2015 all of which have experienced intimate wildlife encounters, hopefully creating positive thinking about nature and the world they live in. At this time, we thank you for your continued support and more importantly our friendship, and we ask that you continue to enjoy the bird park until our very last day, February 14. Regards, Steve & Linda