Wendy Tomkins comes to a stop at Rockhampton Zoo this week at one of several areas that have been closed. She says the popular venue is in an embarrassing condition.
Wendy Tomkins comes to a stop at Rockhampton Zoo this week at one of several areas that have been closed. She says the popular venue is in an embarrassing condition. Sharyn Oneill

Lice infestation traced to zoo

ROCKHAMPTON’S Wendy Tomkins was hoping for a close look at the animals ... but not that close.

Wendy left Rockhampton Zoo with itchy red marks on her body after a close encounter with bird lice at the weekend.

After describing the current condition of the zoo as “atrocious”, Wendy has called on council to either fix the problems or close down the popular south Rockhampton venue.

The council says the bird lice problem is associated with three large native colonies of ibises, cattle egrets and cormorant birds which had made the zoo their home.

“Council can confirm that the zoo’s exhibited birds do not have bird lice, and would only be treated if they showed evidence of having them – it is important to note that bird lice cannot be transmitted to other animals,” a spokeswoman for the council said.

She said the council had resolved yesterday to write to Department of Environment and

Resource Management seeking advice on the lice problem.

“The ibis nests that were on the islands of Murray Lagoon were washed away in the flood, which forced the birds to move to the zoo to re-nest,” the council spokeswoman said.

“In addition to this, the breeding season has extended due to continued wet weather.”

The council has extended its contract with Ecosure to past the end of the normal ibis breeding season.

Ecosure is responsible for removing nests and trimming trees.

That work is scheduled for next week.

Vegetation at the zoo has been too wet to get equipment in to clear undergrowth and lift tree foliage. Weather permitting, this work will be carried out on Friday.

NEST EGG

Rockhampton Regional Council currently spends up to $100,000 per year on ibis management.

With the current infestation, which resulted from the recent floods, at the city’s zoo, council will write to DERM seeking management advice.



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