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Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo

Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo
The Irwin family bought 1.6 hectares of land that became Beerwah Reptile Park. By 1972 they had realised their ambition to run a zoological facility in their dream location — Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Bob Irwin was respected globally as a herpetologist and helped pioneer reptilian husbandry in Australia. Lyn was one of the first people to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in south-east Queensland. The park gained a good reputation, and in 1980, a further 1.6 hectares was added as the menagerie expanded and it was renamed the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park.

Every cent earned was pumped back into the park and into conservation. Bob and his son, the late Steve Irwin, spent much of the 1980s in partnership with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service capturing and relocating rogue crocodiles. Crocodiles unable to be returned to the wild were taken to the Irwins' to live in the newly created Crocodile Environmental Park.

On Steve's death a year ago, his widow Terri declared she would make Australia Zoo even bigger, and that is exactly what's happening. The zoo is home to over 1000 native and exotic animals, 550 staff and a twenty-four-hour wildlife hospital.

The epicentre of it all is the Crocoseum. It's the fulfilment of one of Steve’s lifelong dreams. He wanted people to see crocodiles in clear water ponds, and to learn how they live and behave in the wild. The wily creatures use murky water as camouflage from their prey, but in clear water, the game is up and the dangers can be highlighted just below the surface.

Steve was able to use an intricate system of channels and gates to allow several male saltwater crocodiles to live alongside each other in private enclosures. He disproved his critics and the crocodiles are successfully taken individually to the centre of the Crocoseum. The zoo is the perfect arena for showing some of the earth's most beautiful animals — Bengal and Sumatran tigers, snakes and incredible free-flight birds.

Near the zoo is the Australian Wildlife Hospital. It was opened in 2004 in memory of Steven's mum Lyn. Her work lives on and provides a lifeline for nature's sick, injured and orphaned animals. They are cared for and rehabilitated in state-of-the-art facilities until they are well enough to be released back into the wild.

The hospital has a veterinary facility, intensive care room, laboratory and separate facilities for males and females, diseased and non-diseased animals. The orphan enclosure is where animals, particularly koalas, are hand fed and eventually develop climbing skills. Staffed by permanent workers and volunteers, the hospital's team undertakes research into koala diseases, migration patterns and wildlife health management.

Steve Irwin Day on November 15 will be the first annual celebration of remembering the life of Crocodile Hunter. It will be a day packed with entertainment, activities and shows with an emphasis on the things Steve loved most — family, animals and conservation. All workplaces are encouraged to allow their staff to wear something khaki on the special day.
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