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Monday, November 4, 2013

Kaya, the Painting Dingo, Helps Endangered Bird

An artistic dingo in Port Stephens is helping to save an endangered, Australian bird, with her unique paintings sold to support conservation efforts.

Kaya, a smart, five-year-old, female dingo at the Oakvale Farm and Fauna World in Port Stephens, has been taught to step in paint and then on a blank canvas in front of visitors to the park, with her colourful paw-prints sold to support the conservation of the bush stone-curlew, a nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird in danger of extinction on the Australian east coast.

Oakvale Farm and Fauna World owner, Kent Sansom, says Kaya’s artistic efforts are a hit with visitors and showcase how intelligent dingoes are.

“Kaya lives by herself at our park because she didn’t get on well with the other dingoes,” Mr Sansom said. 
“Dingoes are a social animal so we needed to think of a way to keep her stimulated and content. That was the start of the brainstorming session that ended in providing Kaya with a fun activity as well as raising funds and awareness for an endangered Australian bird, the bush stone-curlew. Our staff at Oakvale wanted to show visitors exactly how smart Dingoes are.

Oakvale Kaya dingo with trainer Lia Reeve-Parker“Positive reinforcement such as a food reward provides Kaya with mental stimulation. She’s a captive-born, pure bred female dingo who needs behavioural enrichment. She is a unique and beautiful animal and this is an interesting way for people to see how intelligent the dingo is.”
A senior keeper at Oakvale Farm and Fauna World, Kate King, said the park was running a breeding program for the bush stone-curlews, with the birds sent from the park and into the wild in the Murray River region to help boost local populations there. “Our keepers are passionate about animals and conservation. Our long term goal is to work with local authorities and private land holders to secure a safe release point for these birds in the Port Stephens and Hunter regions as they are already extinct in many areas.”

Oakvale - Kaya dingo with trainer Lia Reeve-ParkerOakvale Farm and Fauna World, which now boasts official eco-certification and Australian Government T-Qual accreditation for quality and sustainability, has attracted more than five million visitors since it opened at Salt Ash in Port Stephens in 1979. An emu and a koala from the park this year starred in TV ads for Woolworths’ Aussie Animals card promotion.

Oakvale offers close-up encounters with a range of native, exotic and farm animals such as emus, kangaroos, koalas birds, camels, deer, llamas, alpacas, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys and reptiles including crocodiles and pythons. Visitors can also cuddle a koala, milk a cow and hand-feed selected animals which are free to roam the park. Oakvale Farm and Fauna World is open daily from 10am-5pm. Call 02 4982 6222 or visit www.oakvalefarm.com.au.

Kaya displays her painting skills at Oakvale on selected days (call to check before visiting) or see her at work on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rOjEh70CGc.

For general information on attractions, dining, events, maps and holiday deals in Port Stephens, visit www.portstephens.org.au.
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