Future looks bright at zoo
THE empty bear caves, one of the first exhibits at Perth Zoo, show how much the South Perth icon has changed.
The enclosures are nothing like the bright exhibit now home to the sun bears, which have been rescued from the wildlife trade in Cambodia by Free the Bears.
Last Friday the zoo celebrated its 116th anniversary, first opening its gates on October 17, 1898, under founding director Ernest Le Souef, whose great-granddaughter Anna le Souef now works at the zoo as a vet.
In its first year the zoo was home to 488 animals with two monkeys, a pair of lions and one tiger. Early exhibits included a reptile house, a guinea pig castle, aviaries and monkey and mammal houses.
The biggest advancement has been the conservation work it does around the globe, including orangutan, elephant, tiger and Sumatran rhino protection programs funded with the community’s help.
Perth Zoo also plays an important role in native species conservation, with programs in place including breeding and releasing more than 2400 animals like numbats, dibblers, western swamp tortoises and critically endangered frogs.
Main photo: Perth Zoo’s current sun bear enclosure. Inset: The old, disused bear enclosures.