Farmyard animals return to Symbio in a groundbreaking self-sustainable facility

An old favourite has returned to Symbio Wildlife Park this summer but the new farmyard exhibit is a fully integrated, self sustainable and educational facility.

In what could be a world first general manager Matt Radnidge said the new exhibit he and the team at the family run zoo had built, with the help of Tradies in Helensburgh and his brother-in-law Colin Aldred, had been an instant hit since opening just after Christmas.

Talk to the animals: Symbio Wildlife Park general manager Matt Radnidge and long time employee Pete Chambers in front of the new farmyard barn they were involved in building. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Talk to the animals: Symbio Wildlife Park general manager Matt Radnidge and long time employee Pete Chambers in front of the new farmyard barn they were involved in building. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Mr Radnidge said while many new exhibits had been built for exotic animals as part of the park’s redevelopment over the last decade. The chance to get up close and personal with farmyard animals has always been a big hit. 

While farmyard animals were a favourite for many years they used to be spread around the park. That was not ideal and Mr Radnidge’s dream has always been to create a sustainable purpose built facility where all the animals are located in one area.

Because farmyard animals generally eat off the ground and have delicate digestive systems it was important to create a clean environment for them.

“We couldn’t do it well (years ago) so we stopped doing it. But we always knew at some point when we could build an excellent facility we would do it again,” Mr Radnidge said.

“We wanted to do it on a big scale. We wanted to build something that would be here for the long term. We also wanted it to be an integrated project so it was not just..a petting zoo environment.”

Kristen Downer said it was the second time she had visited the farmyard since it opened a fortnight ago. The family liked it so much she bought at annual pass.

Lauren D'arcy said she had done the same because it is such a great holiday activity. “The kids love it here. They never get sick of it”.

There is a large barn, grass area, a kiosk, shelter and garden.

“The whole facility is reliant purely on rain water and we will have a solar system installed in February,” Mr Radnidge said.

The goal is whenever possible to completely operate the facility using the sun and rain. And to feed the animals with produce grown on site.

“We will also be showing people how to garden in a different way. We have..examples of good companion plants that bring in beneficial insects that help when you are trying to grow produce. We have fruit trees and we have different herbal and medicinal plants. We even have a sunflower bed that will help feed the birds. We also have a strawberry tower so we can show people how to grow a dozen strawberry plants in a 1.5m PVC pipe..which anyone can do. We wanted to be able to do something where adults can come, seniors can come and children can come and all actually learn something and take it home...and be able to ask us any question about anything. Our aim is to manage this as a fully integrated site. So we will never mow, we will never whipper-snip, we should never have to weed and we should never have to fertilise. It is about working with the animals and the environment holistically,” Mr Radnidge said.

The large barn features pens with many different baby animals such as ducks, chickens, lambs, goats and guinea pigs that visitors can interact with.

The young animals start in the barn and as they get larger move into outdoor areas.

The large chicken coup also has an outdoor yard to allow free range activity during the day.

Around a dozen eggs are produced each day to help feed the primates and reptiles at Symbio.

Children involved in Junior Keeper Camps during the summer holidays are also enjoying the new area.

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