Rare native marsupial comes out to play at Healesville Sanctuary
One of Australia’s most vulnerable, elusive and precious native animals has made a spectacular appearance at Healesville Sanctuary this week.
The Greater Bilby - also known as Australia’s equivalent to the Easter Bunny - can be a tough little marsupial to find at the best of times. However, Healesville Sanctuary’s bilby, Abi, had no hesitation in coming out to play ahead of National Bilby Day this Sunday (September 8).
Whilst saturated in red light to support her nocturnal nature, Abi used her strong forelimbs and clawed paws to tear into a special crumbling enrichment log provided by her keeper. The rare ground-dwelling marsupial later showed how she’s learning to voluntarily step up onto the scales, and received some tasty treats as reward for her efforts.
Bilby Keeper Bianca Stewart said both the crumbling enrichment log and scale training provided great benefits for Abi.
“I like to give these logs to Abi because it helps encourage her natural behaviours of foraging and digging and working to find her food,” Ms Stewart said. “She really enjoyed it and it was great to see.
Ms Stewart said it was important to celebrate Australia’s animals like the bilby to raise awareness about the native species and their plight, to help save them from extinction.
“We also want to monitor Abi’s weight every month, so we’re also currently in the process of teaching Abi how to step up onto the scales all on her own.
“We want her to feel comfortable so we put her favourite food of mealworms and meat mix to make it a really exciting experience for her.”
National Bilby Day is held annually on the second Sunday in September and is the only day an Australian animal has its own gazetted special day. Ms Stewart said it was important to celebrate Australia’s animals like the bilby to raise awareness about the native species and their plight, to help save them from extinction.
Bilbies are characterized by their large ears and long pink snout and can be found in the arid, desert regions of Australia. They are classified as vulnerable in the wild, with habitat destruction and introduced predators, such as feral cats and foxes, having a major impact on their decline in numbers.
Anyone can learn more about Zoos Victoria’s conservation work with native threatened species by visiting zoo.org.au/fighting-extinction. You can also show your support by donating at zoo.org.au/donate.
You can visit Abi the Greater Bilby at Healesville Sanctuary’s Animals of the Night precinct this Sunday for World Bilby Day, or any time from 9am-5pm seven days a week.