Monarto Safari Park prepares to open new visitor centre, offers a discount to locals
Murray Bridge residents will be offered discounted zoo memberships after the city's council agreed to chip in.
This story was originally published behind Murray Bridge News’ paywall. Paywalled stories are unlocked four weeks after publication. Can’t wait that long? Subscribe here.
Murray Bridge residents will soon be offered special discounts at Monarto Safari Park thanks to a deal struck between Zoos SA and the city’s council.
Up to 500 locals will have a $25 fee waived when they apply for Zoos SA membership.
They will still have to pay up to $115.50 for an annual membership, but the extra application fee will not apply.
Locals who are already members will be able to bring a guest for free, for a limited time.
The special offer is not yet active.
But councillors agreed to provide $12,300 for the purpose at a meeting on Monday night.
Mayor Brenton Lewis said getting more locals to visit the zoo – and encouraging their friends and family members to do the same when they came to visit – would be good for the economy.
“It’s in our best interests to do so,” he said.
“It’s unique, it’s ours, we’ve got it – let’s support it.”
Murray Bridge was the third most common source of visitors to the safari park in the first half of 2021.
Safari park’s visitor centre is nearly finished
Meanwhile, the park’s new, $16.8-million visitor centre is due to open in the next few weeks.
The centre, accessible via the park’s new Monarto Road main entrance, will feature a cafe, nature play space, souvenir shop and plenty of car parking.
Zoos SA chief executive officer Elaine Bensted said 89 workers would eventually be employed there, in addition to the 136 – many of them local – who spent 50,000 hours building the place.
Premier Steven Marshall visited the construction site on Saturday and declared it a “game-changer” for tourism in South Australia.
“The new site will have the capacity to allow an additional 55,000 people to experience Monarto Safari Park every single year,” he said.
“That means more investment for the local region (and) our state, and more jobs, as a result.”
The tourism industry is expecting a gradual surge in visitor numbers after next Monday, when Australia’s borders will reopen to vaccinated international travellers.
A $40 million hotel is due to be finished at the park later this year as part of its Wild Africa expansion.
More information about the border reopening: covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/vaccinated-travellers.
Here comes the pitter-patter of tiny paws
Finally, visitors aren’t all the safari park is expecting by the end of the month.
Nine-year-old cheetah Kesho is pregnant with a litter of cubs, excited keeper Gale Akerman announced on Wednesday.
“She is such a beautiful girl and is a great mother,” she said.
“From the size of her, we think there could be several cubs, but we will wait and see.
“Cheetah are incredibly vulnerable to extinction, so it is particularly special to welcome cubs and raise awareness about their conservation and species in the wild.”
Cheetah pregnancies usually last around 90 days and result in two to five cubs.
The cubs will be a third litter for Kesho; three of her daughters – Mapenzi, Kuishi and Mara – still live with her at the safari park.
The father is eight-year-old male Innis, who recently moved to the park.
Only 6600 cheetah are left in the wild, and the species is listed as vulnerable.
One of the park’s resident lions, Husani, also gave birth to a litter of cubs in January.