By Richard Evans
For footage and photos of Variety SA Chair Tanya Stratton ‘handing over’ the bus to Zoos SA Chief Executive Elaine Bensted and the Director of Monarto Safari Park, Peter Clark, click here
Thousands of spectators at South Australia’s biggest motor sport event will this week get the chance to witness Zoos SA’s brand new, all ages accessibility bus get a run out on the race track before it heads for a life on safari.
The ‘Variety SA on safari’ vehicle, which arrives courtesy of a whopping $214,800 grant from Variety SA, will enable adults and children who have mobility challenges to travel around Monarto Safari Park over the coming months before the bus becomes part of a dedicated safari fleet roaming across the park’s vast Wild Africa area.
Variety SA officially handed over the bus last Friday and the public can get an early glimpse of the vehicle at the VAILO 500 on Thursday 23 November when it will do a lap of the Victoria Park tarmac in Adelaide. The bus can accommodate up to five wheelchairs alongside six seats (or 26 seats without extras) and boasts a rear internal wheelchair lift and air conditioning and has been customised to meet specific accessibility needs. It is the first partnership between Zoos SA and Variety focussed on Monarto Safari Park.
Offering children with accessibility challenges the chance to experience the variety of the safari park is hugely important said Zoos SA Chief Executive Elaine Bensted.
“The bus will allow the children to see and understand the scale of the park up close,” she said. “It is the largest safari experience outside Africa and encountering it first-hand can only add to anyone’s enjoyment and learning.
“We look forward to welcoming our new visitors to the ‘Variety SA on Safari’ bus and are grateful to Variety SA for its ongoing support and interest in Zoos SA.”
The partnership is set to run for three years and the bus will remain part of the Zoos SA fleet indefinitely. Joining forces with Zoos SA gives Variety SA the opportunity to use sponsorship benefits such as access to the zoo and hosting children with disabilities and their families at Zoos SA experiences and events said Variety SA Chief Executive Mark McGill.
“Variety is delighted to expand our relationship with Zoo’s SA as we address the needs of accessibility and inclusion at Monarto Safari Park,” he said. “The On Safari bespoke vehicle provided by Variety is designed to give children, specifically those in wheelchairs, the same opportunities as other children to enjoy the amazing experiences and interaction on offer.
“Variety and Zoos SA share a common philosophy to create an environment where all children, regardless of circumstance can enjoy the wonder of nature.”
Zoos SA’s partnership with Variety began in 2015 and has led to the Variety Nature’s Playground and Children’s Zoo at Adelaide Zoo.