Ballarat Wildlife Park has launched a new initiative ‘Cuppa for a Cassowary’ to raise funds for the Cassowary project ‘Rainforest Rescue’.

For two weeks, commencing on Saturday 21 September 2019, visitors to Ballarat Wildlife Park can opt to support the initiative by adding $1 to their cuppa purchase at the park’s cafe.

Animal keepers will conduct daily presentations along with additional VIP visitor experiences of meeting and feeding one of the park’s Cassowaries.

Ballarat Wildlife Park is home to two female southern cassowaries, Xena and Echo. With their striking blue necks, bright red wattle and their unique-looking casque on the top of their head, they are the first animals visitors see before they even enter the park.

Southern cassowaries are a spectacular species of bird, claiming the title of second heaviest extant bird (after the ostrich), reaching up to 80kg and standing almost two metres tall. They’re a keystone species within the rainforests due to their unique method of seed dispersal – which involves their clever digestive system and faeces. The cassowary feeds on fruit, fungi, insects, and small vertebrates; swallowing all food items whole.

The southern cassowary is federally listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. There is an estimated population of 2,000 individuals remaining, and this population is severely fragmented. The southern cassowary is under threat from a plethora of factors including introduced predators, habitat loss through deforestation, and weather events (such as cyclone Yasi).

Through the Cuppa for a Cassowary initiative, the park is raising money for Rainforest Rescue which aims to protect cassowaries by purchasing blocks of land and planting ‘wildlife corridors’ for these remarkable birds.

Cuppa for a Cassowary is the brainchild of Simon Faithful, a keeper at Ballarat Wildlife Park.

“Cassowaries are often misunderstood due to their unusual appearance, so I want to show how unique these creatures are and raise awareness for their importance to the ecosystem” said Simon.

“My hope is to make this an ongoing event and also to get others on  board in the future.”

Ballarat Wildlife Park is committed to supporting animal conservation through education and fundraising initiatives that promote the respect, empathy and understanding of animals.

What: Cuppa for a Cassowary – a fundraising initiative for Rainforest Rescue

Where: Ballarat Wildlife Park, 250 Fussell Street Ballarat

When: Saturday 21 September – Sunday 6 October 2019

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