Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Dreamworld launches new Bilby education program

Dreamworld teams up with the Bilby Brothers and the Minister of Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation to launch a new education program designed to save an Aussie animal in trouble

June 11, 2008 … One of the biggest tourism players in Australia has sharpened its pencil on the issue of conservation and today launched a hands-on education program aimed at raising awareness about one of Australia’s most endangered animals, the bilby.

With a reported 600 of the tiny creatures remaining in the wild in Queensland, Dreamworld has teamed up with the Bilby Brothers, Frank Manthey and Peter McRae, to create a one hour on-site education program designed to encourage students from grades four to seven to help save the embattled marsupial. Dreamworld hopes to attract at least 1000 students to the program in the first year of operation.

Launching the program before 26 students from St Francis Xavier Runaway Bay School, Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Andrew McNamara, said, “This is a case of conservation, education and tourism coming together to put one of our most endangered creatures at the forefront of young minds.”

“Dreamworld is one of the few wildlife parks in the state with bilbies on display and the only non-government institution with approval to breed the marsupials for release back into the wild. It’s heartening to see them working towards the conservation of this endangered animal.”

Kevin Bradley, COO of Dreamworld and WhiteWater World, added that, “Most people have visions of thrills and spills when they come to Dreamworld and White Water World. But behind the colourful rides there are two giant parks with big hearts actively committed to ‘conservation through education’.

“With more than 1.5 million visitors passing through the Dreamworld gates annually, including 60,000 school students on excursion, our aim is to take the conservation issue off the whiteboard and into an environment where both guests and children are relaxed and receptive to learning,” he added.
The bilby education program takes students on a journey through the changing world of the bilby beginning with an overview of the current situation and ending with simple tactics for action.
Students visit three stations: Dreamworld’s specially-built bilby enclosure and breeding centre; a food web activity that highlights the dramatic and devastating effect introduced species such as foxes and cats have on the bilbies’ natural environment; and a billboard of the two metre high 25 km2 fence that has been built at Currawinya National Park. The fence provides a safe haven for captive-bred bilbies – including those from Dreamworld - to be released into the wild.
Students end their journey with the opportunity to see and touch a real Bilby.
Ms Dominique Burgess, Dreamworld’s Education Manager who trialled the program on June 10 before a class of 25 students from Kingston State School said the bilby education program is curriculum relevant and links to both the Study of Society and Environment and Science syllabi.

“This program uses a real conservation issue to push the awareness of a relatively gloomy environmental situation. Not many kids can get out to Currawinya National Park to see conservation in action, so this course is designed to bring it to them.”

Her comments were echoed by Kingston State School teacher, Matthew Knight who said his combined year 4 and 5 class enjoyed the experiential side of the program.

“It ties in really well with our units at school and reinforces the lifestyle and habitat studies in grade four and threats and adaptation in grade five,” he said.

“We have the future leaders of the country here. They are the ones to make a decision on conservation and unless they have awareness of the situation, there is no way they can make improvements for the future.

“Until today there was not a lot of understanding of the bilby. Most kids know about the (iconic) animals like the koala so it was good to have an animal that is less known. They enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the program.”

Following the program, students are offered the chance to tour through other endangered species located at Dreamworld including the Tasmanian Devil, the Cassowary and the exotic Sumatran Tiger.

Mr Knight said the students were also looking forward to an afternoon on the rides.

“We’ve broken the day up. We’ve done the education program and now we’ll explore one of the animals which the class studied. Then we’ll hit the rides this afternoon. You can’t walk through Dreamworld and say ‘no’ to the rides.”

Dreamworld’s Bilby Education Program costs $21.00 per student and includes the one hour journey through the world of the bilby and access to all shows, rides and attractions available at Dreamworld. Bookings are essential and can be made by calling 07 5588 1184 or emailing:

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