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Redeveloped Fauna Park brings rich wildlife experiences to Kyabram

Since Zoos Victoria took over management, park attendance has soared.

The Kyabram Fauna Park was once an ageing facility in the Goulburn Valley where a few tourists came to see kangaroos, emus, lizards and snakes. In October 2022 Zoos Victoria officially took over the management of the Fauna Park, creating an exciting new era for the tourism attraction.

Paul Lavars is the General Manager of the Kyabram Fauna Park and he believes the Zoos Victoria takeover has provided the Fauna Park with greater range of resources, allowing the park’s infrastructure to improve and attendance to soar.

“Zoos Victoria is definitely looking after [the Fauna Park] and has given the park some terrific funding to improve facilities quickly,” he tells upstart.

The Fauna Park has a variety of animal enclosures and open range sections. It is home to over 400 native Australian species across 55 hectares of land.

One change is a new meerkat enclosure. Visitors can view the small slender animals through the glass windows of the newly renovated café. The bird hide was also renovated, where people can go and enjoy the views out over the wetlands. A new reptile habitat was constructed, housing a large, reticulated python.

A new enclosure has been built for meerkats. Photo supplied by Zoos Victoria

Changes like these have revitalised the region’s attraction.

“In 2018, [the Fauna Park] had 7,000 visitors for the whole year. In the two weeks of school holidays in April and March [2024] we had 12,000 people come through in a two and a bit weeks,” Lavars says.

“We’re tracking well towards 75,000 visitors for this financial year.”

This significant boost in attendance extends further than the park itself. Lavars says the changeover and development of the park has been huge for the region.

“If you go from 7,000 to 75,000 people, it’s usually going to have an impact somewhere and we’re hearing that it’s having an impact on local cafes and other tourism areas as well,” he says.

Colleen Gates, a Councillor for the Campaspe Shire Council, says the Fauna Park is essential for local tourism.

“Kyabram basically can tap into a huge pool of people who would never have probably thought to come and visit Kyabram before but will be able to come up north and spend some time in regional Victoria,” she tells upstart.

Zoos Victoria is a statutory authority, governed by the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board. It governs each of its four properties, including the Fauna Park, in accordance with the Zoological Parks and Gardens Act 1995. A membership will give you access to each of the properties in line with the Zoos Victoria pricing policy, and children under 16 now can enter free on weekends, public and school holidays.

Zoos Victoria also puts a great focus on conversation efforts and wildlife protection. They have 27 priority species that they are trying to save from extinction, including the Mountain Pygmy Possum and the Tasmanian Devil.

“[Zoos Victoria] do a lot of work around trying to protect species from becoming extinct,” Gates says. “That means that Kyabram can become another place where they can be leading some of those programs from.”

Educational programs are also popular at the Fauna Park, with the integration of new conservation programs since the changeover.

“Everybody that comes hopefully walks out and learns a lot more about the conservation efforts that are happening outside of our boundary and not just within the park,” Lavars says.

Zoos Victoria’s management of the Fauna Park means it now offers animal experiences. These unique opportunities include getting up close to koalas, view the Tasmanian Devil’s feeding time, help feed a cassowary and have a meet and greet with different reptiles.

Another tourist attraction provided by Zoos Victoria was the ‘Dino’s at the Zoo’ exhibition launched in March this year. Each of the four zoo sites have a range of different large, robotic moving dinosaurs. Lavars says the exhibition helped the Fauna Park achieve their busiest day with, “1100 people [coming] through”.

Lavars says the park is busy improving customer experiences by constructing new picnic seating areas, paths, all green spaces, and amenities for visitors to enjoy.

“[Kyabram] residents are excited to see something that was pretty much on its knees, reviving and bringing people to the town.”


Article: Harrison Shortis is a second-year Bachelor of Media and Communications (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter @HarryShortis1

Cover photo: Supplied by Zoos Victoria

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