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This Mother’s Day we’re celebrating the amazing keepers who step up and become parents to our animals

There’s certainly no shortage of amazing mothers at Monarto Safari Park and our sister site, Adelaide Zoo.

From Husani patiently raising her rollicking African Lion cubs to otter mum Kalaya welcoming three new pups to the family, there’s plenty of motherly love on display across both our sites.

But today we’re celebrating a different kind of maternal instinct… the unwavering love and care shown by the dedicated keepers who have the important job of hand raising animals.

Monarto Safari Park hand raised giraffe Nolean
The Ungulate team hand raised Nolean, after successfully doing the same with sister Eyelean

Whether it’s a native animal who has been found abandoned or injured or a baby who was sadly rejected by their mum, zoo keepers are no stranger to stepping up and becoming a parent to the animals in their care.

Keepers at Monarto Safari Park recently made the difficult decision to once again raise a giraffe calf after it was rejected by its mother – no easy feat considering newborn giraffes are around six feet tall!

Monarto Safari Park Keeper Vaughan with Scimitar-horned Oryx calf
Keeper Vaughan with a Scimitar-horned Oryx calf, whose species is sadly extinct in the wild

Right across our workforce our awesome staff have also raised tiny Blackbuck and Scimitar-horned Oryx calves as well as a number of adorable Black-flanked Rock-wallaby (also known as Warru) joeys.

But while it might seem like a whole lot of fun looking after such sweet babies, playing mum to a very young and vulnerable animal is actually an incredibly important and often tiring job.

Many species require feeding every few hours, as well as regular grooming and encouragement to go to the toilet.

Keepers also constantly monitor the tots to make sure they’re growing well and displaying behaviours normal for their species and age, as well as introducing them to training programs to make sure they’re comfortable with any contact they will have with keepers and vets in the future.

At Zoos SA, our keepers try to be as hands-off as possible as the little ones grow up, preferring to leave the tots with their mums or social groups to grow up within their species.

Monarto Safari Park Warru joey Tjawe with keeper Lisa
Warru joey Tjawe with keeper Lisa

However, nature can be tough and sometimes our team need to intervene to make sure our animals have the best possible start to their lives.

As a conservation charity that exists to save species from extinction, we’re here for animals great and small, even if that means picking up a bottle and playing mum.


Roll on July when Light Creatures at Adelaide Zoo starts as part of Illuminate Adelaide.

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction.

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