Monday, February 25, 2008

Terri Irwin offers help to save tigers

The family of legendary environmentalist Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin visited the Bogor animal park on Saturday, furthering cooperative ties between sister animal parks Taman Safari Indonesia and the Australia Zoo.

During the visit, Terri Irwin and her children Bindi, 9, and Robert, 4, played with animals, including four-month-old male lion Siro, accompanied by keeper Desta (see photo).

The family and several members of staff from the Australia Zoo also inspected enclosures to be used for Australian native koalas and kangaroos which are planned to be sent to Indonesia under the zoos' animal exchange program.

Taman Safari director Tony Sumampau said Australia Zoo would send 15 gray kangaroos and koalas, while Indonesia would send three Sumatran tiger cubs.

"We must wait until later this year before getting the kangaroos, and longer for the koalas, because we need to prepare their enclosure properly.

"Six years ago we began planting special trees for koalas to eat, so we hope to be ready to receive them in two years time," he said.

Irwin presented an operational car to the Forestry Ministry in Jakarta on Friday, while the Australia Zoo also provided infrastructure and equipment for the Sumatran tiger conservation center including GPS satellite and tracking equipment.

The tracking devices would be implanted into tigers this year by a joint team from Australia Zoo, Taman Safari and the Forestry Ministry.

Irwin told reporters she was concerned about Indonesia's damaged and dwindling forests as well as the endangered Sumatran tiger.

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