AFTER three long months with their backs against the wall, the Kyabram Fauna Park and its staff have weathered the storm of COVID-19 and come out the other side.
Forced to close its doors to visitors in late March after the Victorian Government implemented its statewide shutdown of non-essential services, the park was put in a dire situation considering its animals still needed to be fed, enclosures needed to be cleaned and facilities needed to be maintained.
But on Monday, June 29, the residents of Kyabram will hear the call of the wild once again when the doors to one of their proudest attractions swing back open.
Kyabram Fauna Park general manager Lachlan Gordon said while it was amazing to have the park open to the public, it was important to note the considerable sacrifice it took on behalf of his team to get to this point.
“We’ve had lots of team meetings and opportunities for everyone to share how they feel about it,” he said.
“We’ve just been working together and just keeping each other upbeat and positive through our process.
“I reduced my salary by about 40 per cent to ensure that I was able to keep my team here. A couple of our other full-timers cut down a day and some other staff made some pretty significant cuts as well.
“We’ve returned to normal hours this week so that’s been nice.”
Mr Gordon said there would be several restrictions implemented for the foreseeable future in compliance with social distancing regulations.
“We’ve got maximum people per enclosed space and we’re encouraging one-way traffic around the entire park, so we’ve got markings, arrows and stickers to just communicate where it is appropriate to stand and where they can walk,” he said.
“We can’t be encouraging people to gather together in big groups, so we’ve had to postpone our free animal interactives and also our paid encounters which includes our dingo encounter.”
The park has been able to stay afloat through grants as well as from direct help by members of the community.
Mr Gordon said the park looked better than ever, but wasn't out of the woods yet.
“We’ve got some various funding avenues that we’re looking into at the moment to try and ensure the future of the park, but obviously the situation is still quite precarious,” he said.
“The more people that come and visit us, the more chance we’ll get to continue on.
“We’re definitely moving ahead at full speed as far as acquiring more animals and developing our collection goes, and we’re really trying to bring in some animals that people in the Campaspe Shire and even the Greater Shepparton area may not have seen before.”
Mr Gordon said the Kyabram Fauna Park had an important role to play in the community moving forward.
“We’ve received a series of small grants from various organisations that will help continue to beautify the park, as well as some other grants that will help fund our events that we like to hold each year that have been a huge drawcard for the area,” he said.
“People are looking for something different and we feel we can match that and answer the call.
“We’d like to thank the people of the Campaspe Shire and the Great Shepparton area who have been really supportive.
“We’re excited to have people back through the park again and educating them and spreading the message of our native wildlife.”
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