Feeding Time at Monarto

By Kendrea Rhodes

Did you know that Monarto Safari Park can fit all the major zoos in Australia within its 1500 hectares? And that once redevelopments are complete, Monarto Safari Park will be the largest safari park outside of Africa?

Did you know that giraffes, black rhinos, chimpanzees, lemurs, elands, axis deer, blackbucks, bongo antelopes, barbary sheep and Mongolian horses, love to eat the “browse” (foliage on branches) of certain bushes and trees considered invasive to South Australia?

It’s the need for those “browse” materials that Mr Cris Katona, Browse Coordinator at Monarto Safari Park, is keen for the community to hear about. With growing numbers of animals at the park, feed is an ever-pressing issue. Many browse materials useful for animals at Monarto are not native to South Australia and for a number of years now, the Adelaide Hills Council have donated pruned foliage from roadsides and reserves to the Park.

The general public can also donate tree cuttings to feed Monarto’s hungry animals, but the foliage must be on the “Appropriate Browse Material” list on the Adelaide Hills Council website.

Chris Katona at the Giraffe Safari experience platform, Monarto Safari Park. Giraffes are partial to acacia/wattle, banana palm, carob, fig, liquidambar and tree lucerne. If you have a trailer or ute load of these precious delights, Monarto would like to hear from you.

A few SA invasive species common in the Hills and sought after as browse feeds at Monarto include acacia/wattle, ash, bamboo, banana palm, cape honeysuckle, carob, cottonwood, fig, hackberry, elm, golden raintree, grapevine, hibiscus, honey locust, kaffir plum, lilly pilly, liquidambar, mirror bush, mulberry, nasturtium, oak, non-fruiting olive, pear, poplar, sheaoak, tree lucerne, willow.

Monarto Safari Park offer free professional tree pruning services on selected species, they can also arrange collection, or you can deliver it yourself in a ute or trailer. Mr Katona said that members of the public donating suitable browse feed will receive a photograph of the animals eating their donations. If you think you can help, the first thing to do is contact Cris Katona on 0413 024 724, or email CKatona@zoossa.com.au.

Monarto is just a 20-minute drive down the freeway from Nairne and is a perfect place to plan school holiday adventures. Activities for school age children begin on December 11th with many fun events such as testing your sprinting speed against Monarto’s cheetah.

Monarto’s black rhino enjoying browse foliage donated by the public.

Monarto’s website is also a lot of fun. For example, if you click on the “Animals” dropdown menu and filter them by region, diet, habitat, type, and conservation status (endangered, extinct in wild) you can find out so much about the fifty or more species of Monarto’s exotic and native mammals, birds and reptiles. An example is the importance of Monarto’s Tasmanian devils that are considered an “insurance population” against the fatal cancers diminishing the native population. The Park’s Tasmanian devil breeding and habitat programs are so effective that Monarto’s devils have been successfully released at the cancer-free sanctuary of Maria Island since 2013.

Upcoming events at Monarto include International Cheetah Day (Dec 4th), guided bushwalks (Dec 7th), and in 2022, you can have breakfast with the hyena, lions or even take your tent to sleep out in Autumn. All visitors require tickets, please visit Monarto’s website for more information.

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