Australia building world’s first platypus sanctuary in New South Wales state
Australian conservationists on March 3, 2021 unveiled plans to build the world’s first refuge for the platypus, to promote breeding and rehabilitation as the duck-billed mammal faces extinction due to climate change.
The Taronga Conservation Society Australia and the New South Wales State government said they would build the specialist facility, mostly ponds and burrows for the semi-aquatic creatures, at a zoo 391 km from Sydney, by 2022.
Concerns about the platypus going extinct have been heightened since once-in-a-generation wildfires devastated 12.6 million hectares (31 million acres) of bush, nearly the size of Greece, in late 2019 and early 2020.
Unlike other famous Australian animals such as the koala or kangaroo, the beaver-like platypus is rarely seen in the wild due to its reclusive nature and highly specific habitat needs.
The furry, web-footed animal, along with the echidna, is one of just two egg-laying mammals, and generally lives around small streams and slow-moving rivers in cooler temperatures.
The platypus is classified as a protected species in Australia.