Speech: Mogo Zoo reopening

Speech: Mogo Zoo reopening Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (10:24): Last Saturday was an important milestone in our recovery on the New South Wales South Coast. Every day I am reminded how, as a community, we are strongest when we stand together. On Saturday we did just that, to celebrate the reopening of Mogo Zoo. The Mogo Zoo is a local icon, so it was no wonder that their stories of the bushfires resonated with us so much. We have all heard the stories of how director Chad Staples and 15 of his staff spent a terrifying New Year's Eve defending the zoo from the fire. Keeping the animals safe was their priority. These staff had simply gone to work one day and not been able to leave, but they had their bushfire plan and they saved the zoo. They even managed to deliver a gorgeous baby lion cub in the midst of all that chaos—a Phoenix rising from the ashes indeed. They all did an extraordinary job and deserve our thanks and praise.

I had the honour of attending the reopening ceremony and community day on Saturday, ahead of their official opening on Sunday, and what a magnificent day it was. Everyone who attended had, in some way, helped and supported the zoo, and there was a fantastic community turnout to celebrate this step forward in our recovery. Sherrie, a local Aboriginal woman, delivered a very moving Welcome to Country, where she told her own terrifying story of the fire. I have met Sherrie on many occasions, and she is a remarkable woman. We heard a beautiful rendition of the Australian anthem by Timothy Franklin, a flautist and young son of the local Franklin family that, devastatingly, lost everything in the fire. Well done, Tim; you did an amazing job. As a stunning symbol of resilience, the zoo unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion, on a sizable piece of wood crafted from a large burnt tree—a beautiful but meaningful reminder of all we have been through. Thank you so much to Chad and the team for having me. And thank you to all the wonderful volunteers as well, who turned out to guide visitors through the park and give us meaningful facts about the animals.

The Mogo Zoo is back open for business, so come and visit. Say hello to beautiful baby Phoenix. Check out the largest collection of primates in Australia, and see the zebras, rhinos and giraffes wander the savanna plains. While you are there, grab some fudge from the fudge shop or a delicious pie from Mogo Pies. Have a coffee at Grumpy and Sweethearts or pick up a plant from the nursery. Why not stop into Indo Direct to pick up a bowl just like the one Albo gave to the Indonesian President? There is so much to see and do. We are open and waiting for you.