Monarto Safari Park reopens after three-month shutdown

Lions and devils will be among the new animals visitors can meet.

Monarto Safari Park has reopened to the public after a three-month shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A junior Zoos SA member helped chief executive Elaine Bensted cut a ribbon for the reopening of the park's visitor centre this morning.

More than a dozen people were lined up, waiting to go in, by 9am.

Up to 1000 will be able to enter the park each day until further notice.

When they arrive, they will be able to meet the park’s four new lion cubs, named Chikondi, Adira, Zahara and Kahari over the weekend.

The names – meaning “love”, “majestic”, “flower” and “kingly” – were chosen through a public competition.

Visitors might also catch a glimpse of some of the Tasmanian devil joeys born during the past few months.

Keepers believe there are at least 10 hidden in their mums’ pouches, the most ever born at the park during a single breeding season.

Some of them will eventually join a population of devils on Maria Island, east of Hobart, which is being maintained as insurance against the facial tumour disease which has ravaged the species in the wild.

Visitors may also see the first of six new waterholes filled with water direct from the River Murray, courtesy of SA Water.

Monarto Safari Park's “Zu-loop” buses, keeper talks and viewing platforms have all reopened, as has the Lions 360 experience, albeit for only one session per day.

Social distancing measures will apply on site, including seating limitations at the safari park’s cafe, and staff and volunteers will spend extra time cleaning every nook and cranny.

Still, Ms Bensted was excited.

“As a conservation charity, we rely on the support of our amazing visitors and members,” she said.

“As you can imagine, any restrictions on our visitor numbers directly impacts our ability to save species from extinction and connect people with nature, so we’re very excited to open Monarto Safari Park and have our paws crossed we’ll be able to increase our capacity very soon.”

Visitors should book ahead to be certain they will be allowed in.

Photos: Adrian Mann/Zoos SA.