RSPCA Victoria’s wildlife partnership with Zoos Victoria 

We have an exciting update on our wildlife partnership with Zoos Victoria! We recently launched a new, customised vehicle to treat and care for wildlife– which is the latest initiative in this strong partnership that is equipping Victoria to be better able to respond to wildlife emergencies in the future.

During the devastating 2019/2020 Australian bushfire season, Zoos Victoria’s veterinary teams treated and rehabilitated bushfire-affected wildlife, and RSPCA Victoria deployed its Mobile Animal Care Unit and support staff to triage locations. We’re proud to share that both organisations continue to actively support communities and animals through their recovery.

RSPCA Bushfire Emergency Appeal

RSPCA Victoria’s bushfire relief, recovery and preventative work was all made possible by the generous donations from supporters to our Bushfire Emergency Appeal. To put it simply, our bushfire relief, recovery and preventative work couldn’t have been possible without our generous supporters. We cannot thank you enough!


Thanks to our supporters, Zoos Victoria and RSCPA Victoria are transforming the state’s capacity to respond to wildlife welfare incidents and emergencies by:

  • Launching a customised wildlife care and treatment vehicle known as the RSPCA & Zoos Victoria Wildlife Response Unit, based at Healesville Sanctuary.
  • Building a Koala Ward — a state-of-the-art Koala Hospital at Werribee Open Range Zoo. This will significantly increase the capacity to care for, and rehabilitate, injured wildlife (not just koalas) throughout the year and in emergencies.
  • Constructing a Melbourne Zoo Wildlife Hospital — a purpose-built wildlife hospital, which will significantly increase the capacity to care for, and rehabilitate, injured wildlife.
  • Creating and funding of a Specialist Wildlife Welfare role — this three-year specialist role has recently been taken up by Dr Leanne Wicker. The role is focused on connecting networks in wildlife welfare (government, not-for-profits, traditional landowners, rescue groups and local communities), developing policies and undertaking research to improve the welfare outcomes of wildlife in the event of emergencies and during/after their treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Co-funding a collaborative pilot training program, which was aimed at qualified veterinarians and veterinary nurses across Victoria, to increase preparedness for emergencies. This pilot included both RSPCA and non-RSPCA vets and vet nurses and the program is planned to be delivered annually. The training (aimed at 25 participants) will expand the number of vet professionals with adequate wildlife experience to respond to emergencies.

How else has RSPCA Victoria distributed funds from our appeal?

To make sure the vital funds from our appeal were spent to achieve the greatest impact, RSPCA Victoria also funded a range of other projects and programs focusing on the immediate needs of bushfire-affected people and animals and the recovery efforts needed to rebuild facilities.

Relief:

  • RSPCA Victoria’s initial response to the bushfire emergency included support of practical recovery efforts with animals, along with food and veterinary supplies.
  • Support was also provided to evacuees at relief centres, including transport and shelter for affected animals.
  • The Mobile Animal Care Unit was deployed to triage injured wildlife in East Gippsland and a dedicated bushfire hotline was established.
  • More than 100 animals were provided with emergency boarding, facilitated through RSPCA shelters during the fires.
  • More than 100 families received bushfire assistance during and after the fires, helping over 650 animals.

Recovery:

  • RSPCA Victoria provided essential equipment to enable our Inspectors to operate in the remote areas affected by the bushfires
  • We contributed funds to help rebuild the Mallacoota Pony Club, which was completely destroyed. Our support focused on rebuilding the facilities that enabled the club to get up and running to ensure the safety of the horses and riders, as well as providing the basic club house facilities for the broader Mallacoota community to enjoy and connect and care for animals. These rebuilding works included:
    • Replacement of burnt perimeter fencing to enable the safe use of the club grounds, particularly for younger and less experienced riders.
    • Replacement and rebuilding of the storage shed used to store essential equine equipment.
    • Construction of a pergola, providing a shaded space for the community to meet and care for their horses.
    • Replacement of the water tank to ensure preparedness for any future bushfire events.
    • Replacement of horse stalls for the safe and comfortable holding of horses while not being ridden.
  • We partnered with Youth Affairs Council Victoria to deliver a Young Activators program in the bushfire impacted areas. This six-month program (which recruited 21 young people between the ages of 16–25 from the impacted regions) facilitated the development and delivery of animal welfare projects that help animals living in bushfire affected areas recover, as well as help communities build resilience for the future. These projects included:
    • Designing, building and installing nest boxes for species whose habitat had been impacted by the fires — such as bats, birds and pygmy possums
    • Environmental planting and design that encourages native wildlife species and helps to mitigate such issues as drought, bushfire risk and climate change
    • A digital program focused on young people that showcases and encourages them to explore their local landscape and learn and appreciate native wildlife in their local areas
    • An animal first-aid training program and kits for young people in bushfire affected communities
    • A program aimed at increasing awareness on ethical adoption of pets, highlighting the importance of the human and animal bond. 
  • Readers (books) were offered and distributed to primary schools in the affected areas, with a view of engaging the school students with animal-related topics.

With summer fast approaching, we’re really hoping for an uneventful bushfire season. However, it’s comforting to know that we’re now much better prepared to care for wildlife during and after bushfires or other emergencies – thanks to the generous support of the Victorian community.