On 9 May, Resthaven Mitcham residents enjoyed a visit from the mobile ‘Warrawong 2U’ team, from Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills.
Lifestyle Coordinator, Sylvia Ortiz, says, ‘The Warrawong 2U team brought with them some beautiful native animals.’
‘They presented residents, staff, and visitors with an amazing, interactive session, with guests able to touch and hold the native animals.’
‘We saw lizards, possums, snakes, and even a cockatiel, which flew around the room!’
‘The reaction from all guests was fantastic, with their faces really lighting up, and plenty of “ooh’s” and “ah’s” to be heard.’
‘Some animals, like the ringtail possum, had residents competing for a hold or pat. Others had residents feeling a bit more cautious, such as the Burmese python and the albino carpet python.’
‘Those brave guests who touched the snakes were quite surprised at how they didn’t feel slimy, but soft; “softer than velvet” as one resident put it.’
Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr John Wamsley. At its peak, it occupied 85 acres and housed a flourishing native Australian ecosystem. However, the owners ran into financial difficulty and were forced to sell, leaving 28 acres of land surrounded by feral-proof fencing. It was abandoned in 2013.
David and Narelle, zoo owners in Western Australia, bought Warrawong in January 2017, and are currently attempting to restore it to its former glory.
Warrawong is not currently open to the public. However, the ‘Warrawong2U’ program aims to give access to the native animals, some of which are endangered, to build public understanding, and raise much-needed funds to complete the restoration.
The current owners plan to re-open Warrawong to the public in late 2018.
For Resthaven residents, the mobile version is a great opportunity to engage with native fauna first hand.