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Oakvale and Hunter Valley Zoo to re-open


Oakvale Wildlife Park is preparing to reopen after being closed for its longest period in four decades.

The park, which has been shut since 25 March, will reopen next Monday 1 June.

Owner Leanne Sansom says the break has allowed for some massive changes at the Salt Ash-based site.

“We’ve been doing earthworks, refurbishments of enclosures, painting, things you try and work around the public when you’re open every day except Christmas,” she said.

“We’ve also been doing some big animal movements to make way for some future plans, there are exciting things to come next year, but I can’t comment yet.”

For now, keeper talks are cancelled, however, encounters will still be on offer, while there’ll be a new way to interact with the animals.

“We will have a roaming keeper moving around and doing one-on-one encounters throughout the park, providing that education and information to minimize gathering,” Mrs Sansom said.

And believe it or not, the animals are missing the general public.

“Some are more needy than others, but with the public not there to interact and entertain them, we have had to designate time for keepers to look after them in that way,” she said.

Meanwhile, the animals at Hunter Valley Zoo have also missed not being the centre of attention.

“When a keeper walks into the bird aviary, kangaroo or farmyard, they get mobbed,” Owner Jason Pearson said.

“The past three months have been financially painful.

“We’ve had no revenue at all and our expenses have stayed the same, as we still need to feed all the animals.

“JobKeeper has helped with staff on reduced hours, but it will be good to get people back through the door and have some regular faces again, because the animals have been missing people.

“Having some financial revenue will be good too.”

The park is expected to be “totally different” when it reopens, because there will be no keeper talks and more safety measures.

“We have to clean our high traffic areas every two hours – toilets, entrance, picnic tables, and that’s a lot of people power cleaning between crowds when we are used to doing it morning and afternoon,” he said.

The farmyard and kangaroo yard will also be closed to try and reduce crowds, however, it’s hoped easing restrictions will see that change in the future.

“We just want to provide a safe environment for people to get back to normality,” Mr Pearson said.

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