In recent years, Australia Zoo has embarked on animal tracking projects to gain insights that are critical for the development and success of animal rehabilitation programmes.
The Australia Zoo’s Turtle Research Project was launched in 2009, jointly by Australia Zoo, Sirtrack, Queensland Governments Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the University of Queensland.
Under the project, rehabilitated turtles had satellite trackers attached to them, where researchers could monitor their movements for 500 days, and better understand their ecology. The information derived allowed for informed decisions to be made to better the quality of turtle rehabilitation programmes.
While freshwater crocodiles are plentiful across Australia, they have received far less attention than saltwater crocodiles, and much of their biology and ecology remain unknown. Committed to design more effective crocodile rehabilitation programmes for Australian Freshwater Crocodiles, Australia Zoo has initiated several crocodile tracking projects since 2007.
In 2007, Australia Zoo, The University of Queensland and Queensland Parks and Wildlife entered into a project to gain insights to the lifestyles of Freshwater Crocodiles in Lakefield National Park. Miniature electronic devices, implanted under the crocodile’s skin, would transmit a sonic pulse containing information about the animal to listening receivers underwater. Currently, Freshwater Crocodiles in the Wenlock River are tagged and monitored as well. Crocodile tracking has enabled the revision of current rehabilitation programmes through a better understanding of the species.
While Steve Irwin may not have been directly involved in these tracking programmes which were developed after he passed on, his zoo team was inspired to live on his legacy by dedicating their efforts to improve the lives and care for these animals, just as he would.