Potawatomi Zoo working to help animals impacted by Australian bushfires

NOW: Potawatomi Zoo working to help animals impacted by Australian bushfires

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Relief is on the way for animals impacted by the bushfires in Australia with people across the world raising money to help them. 

In Michiana, the Potawatomi Zoo is trying to do its part too.

On Saturday, January 11, all admission costs for the zoo’s “Winter Day” will go to Zoos Victoria and WIRES Wildlife Rehabilitation. 

Zoo volunteers plan to host a bake sale on that day too and Saturday, January 25 with the proceeds benefiting the same organizations. There will be a final fundraiser on Saturday, February 15 at the Chipotle on Eddy Street. 

“It is definitely uplifting to see so many people supporting these efforts and caring about this catastrophe,” said Skye Hoffman, conservation education curator at the Potawatomi Zoo. “I hope that it’ll encourage people not only to help in the effects of the catastrophe but also urge people to prevent these from occurring.” 

Hoffman explains if people want to help in the relief, money is the best way to do so right now because the fires continue to burn and it’s unclear what the last impacts will be and what organizations will need the most. 

“It is, I think, heartbreaking for a lot of people, but especially here at the zoo,” said Hoffman. “Having animals that would be native to Australia and taking care of them everyday, just knowing that their counterparts are suffering and having a great impact on their habitats.” 

The Potawatomi Zoo houses kangaroos, wallabies, a cockatoo, honeyeaters, a kookabura, sugar gliders, and a few lizards all native to Australia. 

“Australia has a really diverse ecosystem, really diverse habitats,” said Hoffman. 

Ecologists at the University of Sydney released new numbers this week that estimated the number of animals killed in the fires around one billion. More than 300 native species call the continent home. 

Within the last 200 years, 34 species of native mammals have become extinct in Australia. That’s the highest rate of loss for any region in the world. 

“Unfortunately with the damages being done to the habitats in Australia, not only are animals losing their lives, but they’re losing their homes and their sources of food and water,” said Hoffman. “It could have catastrophic consequences down the line. We could see more species of animals become threatened or endangered, possibly even extinct.” 

If you wish to donate to Zoos Australia, click here, or click here to donate to WIRES Wildlife Rehabilitation. 

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