• Granby Zoo started a campaign to help raise money for Australian bushfire relief, and within a week, over $100,000 was raised.
  • MTL Blog got the chance to speak with the zoo's curator about the campaign and the animals in need.
  • Read our interview with Chantal Routhier below!

Last week, Granby Zoo raised over $100,000 to donate to Australian bushfire relief. The Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund campaign, launched by Zoos for Victoria, aims to provide funding to assist with the emergency medical care and long-term treatment of animals. The bushfires, which have been ongoing since late-2019, have devastated the country, with over 7.3 million hectares (17.9 million acres) burned and over half a billion animals killed.

A total of 28 Australians have died and over 3,000 homes have been destroyed. Experts are calling this event one of the worst wildfires in history, claiming that unusually severe summer temperatures and human error as the primary causes of the fires. 

With no end in sight, firefighters from all over the world, including Quebec, have gone to help put out the fires. According to BBC News, there are still over 80 wildfires raging across the country. Officials are in fact preparing for things to get even worse, as Australia is about to experience peak summer temperatures in February. 

MTL Blog reached out to Granby Zoo's animal curator, Chantal Routhier, to discuss the Zoo's donation and how the funding will help Australia's wildlife population. 

How did Granby Zoo get this campaign started?

"The bushfires have been going on since September 2019, in fact. It kept getting worse and it became a real crisis over there. At Granby Zoo, were all concerned about it and wanted to help. We received an email from the director of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) that informed us if we want to donate to a charity, that we should go with the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund

"This campaign was launched by Zoos of Victoria. At this point, our goal was to raise $10,000 from donations and match that amount from our Granby Zoo foundation - a total of $20,000."

"Only a couple of hours after we launched the campaign, we were way over our $10,000 donation goal. So, we decided to leave donations open for another week and instead of only matching $10,000, the Zoo promised to match the donations up to $20,000."

"In the end, it's actually over $100,000 that we're donating. We got more than $80,000 from our public campaign and the Zoo gave $20,000."

Where will the money go? 

"Most of the funding will go to emergency veterinary care. That means antibiotics, pain relief medicine, cages, and special food."

"For example, koala bears can only eat eucalyptus, we can't substitute their food with apples or carrots, so vets have to go source food from eucalyptus trees in the wild."

"For the next months and years to come, all these animals that have been rescued will need shelter and they'll need to get fed. Some of them will be re-introduced in the wild once the fires stop but it doesn't end there.

"We'll have to monitor them and make sure they're safe in their new habitat. We have to make sure they'll be safe and it takes a lot of people to help."

How many animals are in need of this emergency care? 

"It's not only about koalas and kangaroos! In Australia, most species are endemic, native to the country."

"When we say half a billion to a billion animals died, we're not exaggerating. There are 400 different species of mammals, 800 different species of birds, 200 species of amphibians, and even more insects and reptiles. There will be a lot of animals that will need help - if they survive the bushfires."

"You know, the koala is a good ambassador. It's cute and looks like a teddy bear but many more animals than that need our help."

Is Granby Zoo planning to foster any animals from Australia? 

"It's only donations. Transfering animals from one country to another is difficult. Animals have to go through extensive medical procedures to make sure they don't bring diseases into our country. Koalas, for example, often carry retrovirus and chlamydia. We have to be very careful about that."

"In fact, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency doesn't allow the transfer of koala bears to Canadian zoos."

"The only thing we can do at this moment is to give donations towards preserving their natural habitat and to provide them with emergency care."

Every donation helps! Join Granby Zoo and others in donating to the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund here.


This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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