Located about 20km south of Geraldton is a privately owned wildlife park with a variety of agendas. While it provides a wonderful experience to all animal lovers, it is also a sanctuary for injured animals that have been rescued and rehabilitated, and a place to educate people and raise awareness about wildlife conservation.
Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park has been around since the 1970s but it was handed over to Michelle and Jo in 2008. Since then, they have made a lot of changes to the park to accommodate school groups and educational demonstrations about wildlife conservation and reptile awareness, as well as constructing new enclosures for the animals that live at the park.
Within the park is a gnome village, which is sure to delight, and the Easter Island heads add a kooky element to the landscape. There is also has a picnic area with BBQ facilities and colourful playground, which is perfect if you want to celebrate your child’s birthday, and the gift shop has a variety of mementos to take home with you.
All the animals in the park have been hand raised and have either lived there for a really long time or are new residents. The oldest animal we saw was a cocky called Wacker who was born in 1945!
As we strolled around the park, we encountered crocodiles and pythons, sheep and goats, emus and an ostrich, parakeets and cockatoos, dingoes and kangaroos, and a flock of guinea fowl. The kids loved the talking galah and feeding the kangaroos, and they were fascinated by the silver pheasant, sparrow hawk and the tawny frogmouth, that silently followed the kids as they moved around the cage.
The park also offers the opportunity to meet the animals and have your picture taken patting a dingo or cuddling a snake.
Michelle and Jo are deeply passionate about animal rescue and conservation and use the wildlife park as a sanctuary to rehabilitate rescued animals that have either been injured or abandoned. They have an average of 10 animals a month that are brought in due to injury – snakes, lizards, echidnas and bats – they even get called out to assist with injured seals.
The most common animal that is brought in due to injury are kangaroos. In most cases, the mother has been killed while crossing the road or shot while the joey is still in its pouch. They rescue and raise over 25 joeys a year before they are released back into the wild.
Sadly, some animals cannot be released back into the wild and are deemed derelict. In these cases, they need to be re-homed or euthanised, and this is where the Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park steps in. If the animal is of a young age and will not be stressed in a captive environment, then the park will take them in and give them the opportunity to live a fulfilling life in a safe environment. The tawny frogmouth that we met in the park is a derelict juvenile and it looked quite at home in the park.
Birds that have been abandoned by their parents or have fallen out of the nest are also brought in so they can live the rest of their lives in safety. In the case of Priscilla the African Ostrich – she came from an ostrich farm that closed down and she probably wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for Michelle and Jo.
Michelle and Jo are also involved with the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program, an initiative based in Victoria that aims to create a database of DNA-tested dingoes for the purpose of breeding. Dingoes are being hunted and have very little protection so it’s important that we do something to ensure that they don’t get wiped out like the Tasmanian Tiger. They also support the Ochre Project, which aims to raise awareness about dingo preservation and ban the use of 1080 poison baits in Australia.
Michelle is also a licensed reptile remover and has been called to move many venomous snakes, including a 1.3 metre monitor lizard. Because the Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park is an animal rescue refuge, if you find an injured animal, you can call 08 99261171 at any time. If they are unable to take the animal in, they will help you with advice.
The Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park is located on Company Road in Greenough. The Park is open every day from 10am -5pm, and is closed only two days of the year – Christmas Day and New Years Day.
Entry is at the great price of $9 for adults and $6 for kids, and a bag of feed for the animals is $1 each. Discounts for group bookings are available and callouts with the animals for special events can be arranged. They also have a huge photo op board at the front of the park.
Phone: 08 9926 1171