Wednesday, 2 November 2016
Premier Colin Barnett said the conservation and recreation reserve, about an hour's drive north-east of Perth, was an ideal setting for an open range zoo.
"This is a truly spectacular site next to the Avon Valley National Park that has all the features needed to make an open range zoo attractive to international visitors," Mr Barnett said
"The landscape and vistas are striking, exceeding those of other open range zoos in Australia, and even globally. The undulating land and scattered rock outcrops create excellent opportunities for the viewing of animals. This site could become a world-class attraction.
"It's close to Perth, the Swan Valley and the Avon Valley and offers other recreational opportunities such as nature-based tourism, camping and bush walking."
The conservation and recreation reserve comprises 700 hectares, of which 280 hectares is already cleared. The land is vested in the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The Premier said open range zoos held great appeal to the public because people preferred to see large animals in open spaces rather than confined to small enclosures.
"This reflects a wider appreciation of animal welfare issues," he said.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said Perth Zoo's conservation efforts were constrained by its central city location and an open range zoo offered more breeding options, as well as exciting new tourism opportunities.
"One of the benefits of an open range zoo is it will offer the State greater involvement in vital breeding programs for herd species. In the longer-term, it could become an important centre for breeding threatened exotic species as insurance populations for the future," Mr Jacob said.
"Perth Zoo's focus on wildlife conservation has greatly enhanced its reputation and attractiveness as a destination. If the zoo can expand in an open range setting, it will continue to build its global reputation.
"An open range zoo gives us the opportunity to become a centre for breeding exotic species such as white rhinoceros, giraffes, African painted dogs, hamadryas baboons, plains zebras, African tawny lions and Asian elephants."
Mr Barnett said a site investigation would now take place to consider infrastructure requirements such as road access, water and power needs before an initial concept plan was developed.