Zoos Victoria: working with wildlife beyond our walls

When the devastating bushfires of last summer hit Victoria, we launched the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund, a fund dedicated to the rescue and recovery of bushfire-affected wildlife and enhancing preparedness for future wildlife responses. 

"There's no doubt we're going to have bushfires again that will impact our precious wildlife, it's a part of our Australian landscape. So, the question is not about whether or not we'll have other bushfires like this again, but whether or not we'll be prepared for the next one." - Dr Jenny Gray, CEO Zoos Victoria

Our Australian wildlife is so precious, more so now than ever before, and the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund is our starting point to recovery from the 2019/2020 summer bushfires, and arming us with the necessary tools for the future. 

Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund: 

$17M worth of bushfire projects planned

$9.75M in funds committed as at October 2020, including: 
$8M from the community and organisations
$1M grant committed from the Australian Government
$750K grant and emergency response funding from the Victorian State Government

This includes:
$2.7M for animal welfare and wildlife projects
$4.8M to recover threatened species
$330K for nature-based recovery projects


Our work focuses on three main areas aligned with our expertise

With your ongoing support, we have launched the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Response and Recovery Plan.

Thanks to the community's generosity, we are on our way to making sure we are even more ready to help Victoria's wildlife in future bushfire events. 

Mountain Pygmy-possum
Threatened species recovery projects

These projects are specifically related to local threatened species within bushfire-impacted areas and areas at risk of future bushfires. Last summer's bushfires impacted many threatened amphibians and several small mammal species and many more are at risk of future events. 

This includes establishing a Spotted Tree Frog facility to house a captive breeding program for this species at significant risk of extinction, as well as employing specialist biologists to conduct research and lead conservation programs for native rodents such as the Smoky Mouse and Broad-toothed Rat, as well as threatened amphibians.

  • We will focus on protecting endangered native rodents from future bushfire events.
  • We will establish conservation breeding programs for species in urgent need.
  • We will build holding facilities at our zoos to allow us to temporarily house evacuated threatened species in times of need for future events.
  • We will conduct essential research and monitoring programs to arm us with the best information to protect threatened species.


Vets feed koala with a syringe
Animal welfare and wildlife projects

This includes creating to new key positions for an Emergency Management Specialist and a Wildlife Emergency Response Training Co-ordinator for wildlife veterinary staff and researchers, as well as the purchase of specialist equipment and machinery, supporting novel research and building state-of-the-art facilities to boost capacity and care for wildlife in need in future events.

  • We will upgrade wildlife hospital infrastructure at Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo to join Healesville Sanctuary’s Australian Wildlife Health Centre as highly functional wildlife hospitals
  • With the generous support of RSPCA Victoria, we will establish a specialist koala hospital at Werribee Open Range Zoo
  • We will continue to work with partners to develop a training program that aims to better prepare emergency wildlife responders for future events
  • We will continue to conduct novel research to better understand wildlife health and welfare factors that can impact patients and allow us to advance care in future events
Nature-based recovery projects

Because everyone can play a role in helping our wildlife, we will support and educate the wider community in helping with the recovery and protection of bushfire-affected wildlife.

This is just the beginning

Thank you for your generous support helping bushfire-affected wildlife. As our work continues, we continue to value your support. 

With $17M in projects currently outlined in our Bushfire Response and Recovery Plan, there is still so much more to be done and we continue to look to the community to help in any way they can. 

*Donations over $2 are tax-deductible for Australian taxpayers. We are unable to provide advice to international donors regarding the tax-deductibility.