Zoos Victoria will take over the management of Kyabram Fauna Park in what has been described as a boost for regional tourism and jobs.
Environment and Climate Action Minister Lily D'Ambrosio announced the decision at the weekend, with the state government committing $3 million to the changeover.
From October, Kyabram Fauna Park will be included in the state government's $20 million Kids Go Free offer, where children under 16 receive free admission to Victoria's Zoos on weekends, public holidays and school holidays, and members of the two zoos will have access to both.
Kyabram Fauna Park was awarded Zoo and Aquaria Association (ZAA) Australasia accreditation in April this year, making it the 11th ZAA-accredited zoo in Victoria.
It joins Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary, benefiting the resident wildlife, delivering improved staff opportunities and increased tourism to northern Victoria.
The 55-hectare parkland and wetland Kyabram Fauna Park site is two-and-a-half times bigger than Melbourne Zoo and has more than 600 animals, the largest collection of Australian animals in Victoria after Healesville Sanctuary.
The extensive collection of Australian animals includes Tasmanian Devils, quolls, dingoes, koalas, kangaroos, wombats, echidna, emus, flying foxes and southern cassowary along with an impressive collection of reptiles and birds.
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The park has looked after wildlife and delivered conservation programs since 1979, planting more than 7000 native trees and plants to create a range of habitats to provide food and shelter for free-ranging wildlife and encouraged the return of 35 species of birds to the local Kyabram area.
Zoos Victoria and Kyabram Fauna Park already share close strategic alignment across animal welfare, conservation, sustainability and visitor experience.
The transition process is now underway, with full integration to be complete within the next 18 months.
Zoos Victoria chief executive officer Dr Jenny Gray said Zoos Victoria would work hard to ensure a smooth transition.
"We are thrilled to have an even broader reach to connect community with nature right across the state of Victoria, to secure a future rich in wildlife," he said.
Ms D'Ambrosio said the move was a win for tourism and jobs in northern Victoria and "our precious biodiversity".
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