Donation gives Monarto Safari Park’s old visitor centre a new purpose
A new visitor centre opened at the zoo earlier this year. Here’s what’s happened to the old one.
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A gift from a mystery donor will help Zoos SA educate the next generation of schoolchildren at Monarto Safari Park.
A new education centre – “the Outpost” – opened at the park on Tuesday, occupying the building which had been used as its main visitor centre until a few months ago.
Lift-up panels, buttons and other interactive displays will guide young minds through the worlds of leaf litter, fungi, insects, marsupials and birds.
Other displays will introduce children to conservation efforts being undertaken along the Lower Murray and around the world.
The refurbishment of a classroom at the centre will allow the park to host school visits, including overnight visits once its Wild Africa accommodation precinct is complete.
The renovations were funded by a foundation with an interest in conservation which wished to remain anonymous.
Zoos SA CEO Elaine Bensted said the centre would help forge connections between the natural environment and the 16,000 schoolchildren who visited the safari park every year.
Deputy Premier Susan Close said it was critical, in this day and age, that young people were made aware of the importance of conservation.
“Humans have shaped this planet and we are now responsible (for it),” she said.
“Most of what we’ve done has been pretty awful for the animals that we share this planet with.
“It’s not enough for us to step back and say ‘sorry, let’s hope that everything repairs itself’ … we must get our hands dirty and turn this around.
The education centre would help the safari park show the next generation the way forward, she said.
“It’s not just about entertainment, it’s not just about hardcore science education, it’s about ... celebrating all these beautiful animals that we share this Earth with,” she said.
The building now known as the Outpost became somewhat redundant when the park's new, $16.8 million visitor centre opened in March.
However, safari park staff always intended to keep the old one operating as a stopover point for visitors: somewhere they could sit a while, grab some food, go to a bathroom and get out of the weather if need be.
The cafe and shop at the old centre remain, and will open on weekends and during school holidays.