Up close and personal at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Reading Time: 3 minutes

TO WIN ONE OF 50 FAMILY PASSES REDEEMABLE AT EITHER FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK AT BLACKTOWN OR MOGO ZOO NEAR BATEMANS BAY,  ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION AND SEND TO: [email protected]

WHAT IS ARCHER AND WHO ARE SOME OF HIS FAMOUS “MATES”? GOOD LUCK!

For a six-year-old, tiny Archer has certainly packed a lot into his young life.

He has made countless television appearances, has thousands of followers on social media and counts Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Rebel Wilson and Leonardo de Caprio as “mates”.

Every day, queues of people line up just to meet him and have their photo taken beside him.

Featherdale Director Chad Staples with Archer and Hollywood star Will Smith PHOTO: Featherdale Wildlife Park

And despite all this attention, the laid back young “man” likes nothing more than getting a hug each morning from his “dad” before spending the day with him at the “office”.

Archer is one of 44 koalas living at Featherdale Wildlife Park and part of their exclusive “Animal Encounters” program running these school holidays.

Featuring the largest collection of Australian animals anywhere in the world, Featherdale is giving people a rare “up close and personal” experience with some of our native fauna which the park hopes will breed a life-long love for them and ensure their conservation.

Featherdale Director Chad Staples said the park, and its sister site Mogo Zoo on the state’s south coast, provides a unique opportunity for people to immerse themselves in the animal’s world and give a better understanding of their unique and fascinating characteristics.

He said as many of the animals have been hand raised, limited visitors to the parks due to bushfires earlier this year and COVID-19, has left them literally craving attention.

“Our point of difference to other zoos is that we offer people the opportunity to get up close and personal with our animals and have the opportunity to immerse themselves in their world,” he said.

Chad and Archer with Modern Family star Ty Burrell PHOTO: Featherdale Wildlife Park

“We hope this access will give people the opportunity to fall in love with the animals and in turn protect their environments and help ensure their futures.

“We have raised many of our animals from birth and so are very at home with being handled and interacting with people.

“Actually it’s been interesting seeing the difference in the animal’s behaviour while we were closed, there was a feeling that something was missing with the animals and I think that was very much them missing out on interacting with people and getting human attention.

“I know with Archer, who I raised from about 5 months of age, he certainly thrives being around other people and is happy to interact with visitors to the park.

“Every morning I have my cup of coffee, give him a morning hug and we set off together for our day around the park.

“And his friendliness is certainly due to that routine he has pretty much known from birth.”

Aussie movie star Rebel Wilson visiting Archer at the park. PHOTO: Featherdale Wildlife Park

2020 has been a tough year for both zoos, however Mogo has feared the worst, having to close twice, firstly due to the devastating south coast fires earlier this year and then the coronavirus.

However both centres are now open and Chad points out that despite the challenges, their passion for the animals remains the same and their wellbeing always comes first.

“After months of lockdowns and tight restrictions due to COVID, the school holidays really are a great time to reconnect with nature,” he said.

“Visitors from overseas are not here so it’s a great opportunity for “locals” to have some quality time with the animals.

“I have, without doubt, the best job in the world, and hope to give as many people as possible a firsthand look into my world and see that.”

Park Director Chad feeding one of his four-legged mates PHOTO: Featherdale Wildlife Park

For more details on either park go to https://www.featherdale.com.au/ or https://mogozoo.com.au/