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LONE PINE KOALA SANCTUARY
200,000 square metres of nature, since 1927

 

Meet a koala, hand-feed kangaroos and engage with a large variety of Australian wildlife in Lone Pine's beautiful, natural settings.  Guests experience happy, healthy animals and engaged staff, as well as the opportunity to support conservation and enjoy educational opportunities.
  COVID-19 UPDATE: Lone Pine is closed temporarily. Keep each other safe during this time and we will see you again soon.  Details HERE  

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hendrix target training

Walking with Hendrix & Lizardcam 

Meet Hendrix, our adorable two-year-old male perentie. Hendrix arrived at Lone Pine in March 2019.

Perenties belong to the monitor lizard family and are Australia's largest lizard (fourth largest in the world). They can grow up to 2.5 metres long and can reach about 30km/hour when hunting for prey.

Perenties are a highly intelligent species and so require a lot of enrichment to keep them mentally stimulated. Since his arrival, Hendrix has had his keepers stumped as to which enrichment he enjoys best, often largely ignoring the wide variety of activities and items offered to him.hendrix

Not to be deterred, his keepers kept brainstorming and eventually came up with a winning enrichment solution; harness training.

As you can imagine, you can’t train a lizard to walk in harness overnight, so Reptile Keeper, Courtney Hawkins, has had to put a lot of thought into how best make sure Hendrix is happy throughout his new training process.

Firstly, Courtney had to build her relationship with Hendrix. She did this by sitting quietly in his exhibit and allowing him to initiate interactions. This built his trust in her to such a degree that he now greets her every morning, and asks for back and chest scratches. What a friendly fella!

Hendrix then began target training, where he learnt to walk to his 'target' (a large red disc on a pole). When Hendrix successfully touches the target with his snout, he is positively reinforced with a clicker sound cue and some of his favourite food - quail.

Most recently, Hendrix was introduced to his harness. After becoming comfortable wearing his harness, he started small walks on-lead with Courtney around his exhibit.

"Hendrix is very intelligent, and picked up on target training very quickly. This allows us to move him wherever we need, and was the base behaviour to build on for harness training success,” says Courtney.

“His harness and target training will also be helpful to our vet team when Hendrix needs to have medical checkups. Eventually, Hendrix will be able to go for longer walks throughout the sanctuary with his keepers, which will be fantastic enrichment and exercise for him.”

At Lone Pine, we endeavor to provide a wide variety of enrichment for the animals in our care. This follows the guidelines laid out by the Zoo and Aquarium Association, which we are accredited with for positive animal welfare*. By offering walks throughout the sanctuary, we’re allowing Hendrix to experience the positive states of exploration, foraging and play.

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram to keep up with Hendrix and his training progress.

You can also check out our Dragons & Skinks live webcam on YouTube, to keep up with the antics of our smaller lizard friends.


 

*https://zooaquarium.org.au/public/Public/Animal-Welfare/The-Five-Domains.aspx

Tabby and Galit 2

Tabby the Koala's Close Call

Meet Tabby. Don’t let her small size and fuzzy face fool you, because this little koala is a fighter.

At just 7 months old and about the size of a new-born kitten, Tabby fell from her mother’s pouch early one morning. As if falling from up a tree isn’t bad enough, it was also the middle of winter.

By the time little Tabby was spotted on the ground she was fairly unresponsive and suffering from hypothermia, which can occur very quickly in such a young koala. She was immediately scooped up and taken to our wildlife hospital where our vet and head koala keeper took turns warming her up using their body heat to help her regain a normal temperature.  

It was touch-and-go, but eventually Tabby became responsive enough to be returned to her mother’s pouch. Unfortunately, the tough times were far from over. A week after her fall she still hadn’t gained any weight and was becoming increasingly frail. She was placed on supplemental milk feeds twice a day to boost her condition, but the next month showed little improvement and the outlook wasn’t good. Even after switching to different milk and being placed on antibiotics, progress was slow and each day was a small victory.

Finally, after months of meticulous care, Tabby started to show some signs of improvement. It’s certainly been a tough journey, but she has come a long way and even managed to reach a normal weaning weight by her first birthday which was on the 23rd of November, 2019.

Tabby has gone so well that she is now independent and lives away from mum with the other young females. Tabby is a little koala with a big personality, and according to our vet, Galit Rawlinson, “she loves interaction (on her terms) and has become quite a confident and endearing little girl.”

We will continue to keep a close eye on Tabby, but we can all breathe a little easier knowing that she is out of the woods and on track to lead a healthy, normal life. This could never have been possible without the quick intervention and care of our hospitaland keeping team.

Be sure to stop and visit Tabby during your next visit. If you want to know how to spot her, just look for the smallest koala in the exhibit across from our “retirement” koalas (but maybe not for long at the rate she’s growing!)

 

Have you heard the buzz?

Lone Pine has recently flicked on the “vacancy” signs at our brand-new native bee hotel, and prospective tenants are making a bee-line to book in.

When we think of bees, we usually picture the European honey bee, but did you know that Australia is home to over 1,700 species of native bees, 11 of which are completely stingless? Ranging in size, shape and colour, our native bees make up an incredibly diverse bunch. Even their social lives are varied, with some species living in hives, while many prefer to fly solo and raise their young in underground burrows or timber hollows.

"Roughly one-third of the world’s crops rely on bees for pollination"

All bees play an essential role in our ecosystem as pollinators for both agriculture and native flora. Roughly one-third of the world’s crops rely on bees for pollination. As it turns out, some of our native bees are even more effective pollinators of certain plants than the honey bee. They can perform a fascinating feat called “buzz pollination” which involves vibrating flowers at a certain frequency to release more pollen.

Threats such as habitat loss, insecticide use, and climate change are causing bee numbers to fall at an alarming rate. Bees help us in so many ways, and now, more than ever, we need to return the favour. At Lone Pine, we are doing our part by providing a cosy home for native bees in the form of ‘bee hotels’. By attracting more of these native-super-pollinators we are in turn increasing the biodiversity of our natural area through increased pollination of native plants. To cater for the diverse needs of the native bees in our area, the head of Lone Pine’s gardens team (and big-time bee enthusiast), Kurt Walker, has created a range of bee hotels, specifically designed to entice multiple species. Blue banded bees, for example, prefer to nest in shallow burrows in the dirt, so clay nesting holes have been incorporated to provide a cosy room for them, while wood has been provided for those species who prefer to hunker down in timber.

Creating your own “bee hotel” at home is an easy and fun way to not only encourage bees to visit but entice them to stick around. Aussiebee.com.au provides a great step-by-step guide to building your own bee hotel: https://www.aussiebee.com.au/bee-hotel-building-tips.html

 BeeHotel

Brush Turkey

Brush Turkeys: Learning to love these feathered friends

The determined “scritch-scratch” shuffling of leaves is a sound that causes many a backyard garden enthusiast’ eye to twitch; the sound of an Australian brush turkey hard at work building a nest mound.

Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying the brush turkey’s success. Once found all along the east coast, brush turkeys were nearly hunted to extinction during the Great Depression in the 1930s when their meat and eggs provided a valuable food source.

However, brush turkeys are making a major come back. While many animals are struggling with urbanisation, brush turkey numbers are actually on the rise in many suburban areas.

Although they can sometimes make a bit of a mess, these native birds are actually quite remarkable.  

BrushTurkey1.jpg

Let's start with their fascinating family structure 

In the brush turkey world, it’s the dads that put in most of the effort. Male brush turkeys work tirelessly to scrape together mounds of soil and leaf litter into a massive pile about 4m in diameter and 1m high.

Once the male has achieved the perfect pile, he allows a female to access the mound where she will lay an egg that has been previously fertilised by a different male.

Multiple females will visit and lay the eggs of different males in the pile, which are incubated by the heat given off by the decomposing material.

The male brush turkey is responsible for protecting the mound and keeping the internal temperature at roughly 33 degrees, which he does by using his beak as a thermometer and adding or removing leaf litter.

BrushTurkey2.jpg 


But that's just the beginning. Let's talk about the chicks

Brush turkey parents take a very hands-off approach to raising kids. After hatching, the new-born chicks have to dig their way out through roughly 1m of dirt and debris and once they make it to the surface, they’re completely on their own. They can even fly a few hours after hatching, and immediately go off on their own in search of food.

Brush turkeys play an important role in controlling insect populations and dispersing seeds in their droppings. Once the chicks have all hatched, their unused mounds can also make fantastic compost.  

If you do want to discourage turkeys from nesting in your garden, try to limit the availability of leaf litter and act quickly to remove the early signs of a mound forming (only very early stages).

Lastly, it’s important to remember that brush turkeys are a native species and are protected by law. There are serious penalties for harming brush turkeys or their eggs/nests.

The best thing we can do is embrace and appreciate these fastidious feathered friends and learn to live with them, like a somewhat messy, yet endearing, roommate.    

ReptileEnrichment

Reptile Enrichment: Stimulating the senses of our scaly friends

Reptiles are arguably some of the most stigmatised and misunderstood creatures in the animal kingdom.snake enrichment Sonny

Often thought of as emotionless and unfeeling, they have been widely villainised and persecuted throughout history. The technically incorrect statement that they are ‘cold-blooded’ doesn’t exactly help with this reputation (reptiles are ectothermic; the temperature of their blood depends on the external conditions).

Contrary to popular belief, reptiles are intelligent creatures who can lead complex emotional lives. Crocodiles, for example, perform intricate courtship rituals involving mutual vocalisations, sensuous snout rubbing, and bubble blowing. Croc mums are also fiercely protective of their young, quickly responding to cries of distress and gently transporting their babies in their mouths after hatching.  Shingleback lizards have been known to form monogamous pairs, with some couples seen returning to the same mate each breeding season for over 20 years. So romantic!

"Reptiles are capable of problem-solving in ways previously only attributed to birds and mammals."

Recent studies have also shed new light on reptile intelligence, showing that reptiles are capable of problem-solving in ways previously only attributed to birds and mammals.* It’s safe to say, there’s more to reptiles than meets the eye, and providing enrichment for them is just as important as it is for any other animal within our care.

Enrichment often involves some kind of food reward, however, with reptiles, this can be tricky. Many reptiles don’t need to eat every day, and during the winter months they eat even less (or not at all), going into a state called brumation which is similar to hibernation in mammals.

Food often won’t work as a motivator, so we have to think of other ways of keeping our scaly friends stimulated. Rather than food-based enrichment, tactile and scent enrichment is often more effective.  

sonny and enrichment item

Recently, volunteers from the Happy Paws Happy Hearts program made some awesome sensory climbing boxes for the pythons, which were a big hit. The team filled the boxes with shredded paper and mulch from the chicken coop at the barn to entice the snakes to explore.

Other reptile enrichment includes stinky scavenger hunts using different items from around the sanctuary such as mulch and poo. Our reptiles who live in indoor exhibits also get brought out for regular sunning/exploring sessions and the turtles go turtally wild for worm and fly pupae popsicles in the warmer months.

 

Regardless of how you feel about reptiles, one thing is for certain, they are amazing animals who absolutely deserve our respect.

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/science/coldblooded-does-not-mean-stupid.html

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    The determined “scritch-scratch” shuffling of leaves is a sound that causes many

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  • Tabby and Galit 2

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    Read More
  • hendrix target training

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    Read More