PRESERVING WILDLIFE: Threatened Species Day commemorates the death of the last known thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger). Peyton with 10-week-old dingo puppy Nala.
PRESERVING WILDLIFE: Threatened Species Day commemorates the death of the last known thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger). Peyton with 10-week-old dingo puppy Nala. Contributed

Zoo's newest addition helping to change opinion on 'pests'

THE newest addition at Wildlife HQ Zoo is not only adorable, but she's helping spread an important message.

The Zoo is encouraging people to come and get up close to Nala, the 10-week-old dingo pup, to help clear some of the misconceptions around the native Australian animal.

While many consider them to be a pest, Wildlife HQ Zoo CEO Jarrod Schenk said dingoes were actually becoming endangered and needed to be protected.

"They are a misunderstood animal and the latest research suggests they have been here for nearly 40 000 years," he said.

"They are a critical part of our natural ecosystem and help keep feral dogs, cats and fox numbers under control.

"Wild dogs readily breed with dingoes and it is this feral hybrid that gives the pure dingo a bad name. As feral dog populations grow in Australia pure dingoes are facing the risk of extinction."

Mr Schenk said Nala arrived at the Zoo last week and would be housed with her five-year-old partner Simba.

"Nala was sourced from the Dingo Conservation Center in Victoria where they have an active breeding and conservation program for dingoes," he said.

"Interstate the dingo is recognised as being a threatened species.

"Here in Queensland they are still regarded as a declared pest. This is something we hope in time will change as we raise awareness for the dingo and its conservation."

Nala's arrival at the Zoo has coincided with this year's Threatened Species Day today.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of plants and animals at risk of extinction in Australia.

According to the Greens party, Australia had the highest rate of mammal extinctions and one of the highest overall extinction rates in the world, with 500 animals currently threatened with extinction.

Greens Senator Janet Rice said more needed to be done to prevent further species from becoming extinct.

"It's astounding and appalling that a country as advanced and as wealthy as ours is robbing future generations of their chance to know and love our precious wildlife," she said.

"It's clear already that so much of this loss is avoidable. Strong laws to protect these animals and proper funding for recovery plans would make a huge difference.

"There is no more appropriate time to focus on what needs to happen to protect our threatened wildlife than on Threatened Species Day, which commemorates the death of the last Tasmanian Tiger on 7 September 1936."

To book an encounter with Nala at the Zoo visit https://whqzoo.com/