Wildlife care flies high in Glenthorne future

Hon David Speirs MP

Minister for Environment and Water

Sunday 7 November 2021

Adelaide’s southern suburbs will soon be home to a high-tech specialist wildlife care centre, with the state’s leading animal welfare organisation set to build an innovative $23 million Animal Care Campus at Glenthorne National Park-Ityamaiitpinna Yarta.

The RSPCA South Australia Animal Care Campus will provide specialist wildlife veterinary care for injured and ill native fauna and it will become the state’s centre for the rehabilitation of injured wildlife. Domestic animals will also be able to be treated at the centre which is expected to provide care for about 8,000 animals a year.

An around-the-clock wildlife hospital – the first of its kind in South Australia – and educational training centres will be key features of the development, which is scheduled to be completed by 2023. 

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the project is a key outcome from the South Australian Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Taskforce which identified a range of recommendations to help support wildlife recovery after bushfire events. The taskforce was established after the 2019-20 summer bushfires.

“We know the 2019-20 summer bushfires were devastating for native wildlife and the need to provide better care to animals adversely impacted by bushfires was a key outcome from the taskforce, which is exactly what this new centrally-located centre will do,” Minister Speirs said.

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with RSPCA to deliver this very exciting development for the Glenthorne precinct which will enable us to be better prepared, and deliver state-of-the-art care to wildlife, in the event of another major bushfire or other emergency situation.

“Glenthorne is one of the jewels in the crown of our plan to provide South Australians with better access to green, open space and I look forward to seeing this site thrive for generations to come.

“In coming months and years the Glenthorne Precinct – a 1500-hectare network of open space which includes Glenthorne National Park-Ityamaiitpinna Yarta, Marino Conservation Park, Hallett Cove Conservation Park, Happy Valley Reservoir, and areas of the Field River Valley – will be transformed into an environmental and recreational hub.

“Adelaide has already been recognised as the third most liveable city in the world and projects such as this will only enhance this reputation.

“For many years under the former Labor Government a cloud hung over the future of Glenthorne Farm, but through the passion of the local community and a commitment from the Liberal Party, I am proud to be able to say we have preserved Glenthorne for the future.”

As part of the new campus, the RSPCA will be granted a long-term lease of the site.

RSPCA South Australia President Rob Dimonte describes the move as “a big step forward” for animal care in SA. The new campus is expected to double the number of animals that the RSPCA cares for every year, while providing much improved facilities in-line with similar centres interstate.  

“Going forward, we believe the need for assistance in managing companion animals – like dogs and cats – is going to be reducing,” Mr Dimonte said. 

“So it’s really about building an education facility, a large veterinary facility and a wildlife hospital, which we see as a key part of our future. 

“It’s quite innovative for us to be building this sort of a facility on a national park. But given our future focus in wildlife and education, I think we will be an exciting part of the future of Glenthorne National Park.”

Wildlife rescue group personnel will be provided with free veterinary treatment to injured animals. Veterinary students and practicing vets will also have the opportunity to build skills and experience in treating native animals. 

RSPCA South Australia chief executive officer Paul Stevenson says that – with an initial target of providing care for about 8000 animals annually – the organisation’s new O’Halloran Hill park base will become the state’s centre for wildlife rehabilitation. 

The philosophy behind the hospital is to provide co-ordinated support to the many existing wildlife rescue groups in the state – while also making it simpler for the public to seek help. 

“The best way we can make sure as many animals get as much help as possible is for us to support those wildlife groups,” Mr Stevenson said.

“If they stop operating, then wildlife is in trouble. So it’s very much about providing support to those groups where we can, recognising the important contribution they currently make to our native wildlife.

“The simple objective is to get injured native animals the best care as quickly as possible.” 

Consultation is currently open on the YourSAy website on the inaugural Parks of the Glenthorne National Park-Ityamaiitpinna Yarta Precinct Draft Management Plan, which includes Hallett Cove and Marino conservation parks, and will close on 20 December. 

For more information visit www.yoursay.sa.gov.au