A WOMAN has dubbed Wagga Zoo a “poor imitation of a tourist attraction” because animals were shabby, grounds were unkempt and the kiosk selling animal feed was closed.
But Wagga City Council has strongly defended the claims, stating staff even worked on Christmas Day to maintain the popular facility, while the kiosk closure was out of its hands.
Yerong Creek’s Justine Isherwood visits the zoo at the Botanic Gardens with her grandchildren from Melbourne every Christmas holidays.
But last Saturday, Mrs Isherwood and her visiting grandchildren - aged three, seven and nine – were outraged to find they could not feed the animals because the kiosk selling it was closed for renovations at what should be the busiest time of the year.
The visit was made more sour by a “horrified” Mrs Isherwood reporting the few animals that were there looked shabby, while water was stagnant and smell.
“I’ve seen (animals in) rescue centres that seem to be in better condition,” she said.
“It really was a poor imitation of a tourist attraction.”
Mrs Isherwood questioned why the kiosk would close at such a busy time when Wagga was trying to position itself as a tourist hot spot, denying kids the opportunity to feed the animals.
Council’s Acting Director Environmental and Community Services David Walker clarified the kiosk was leased out to a private operator and they had chosen to close it while converting it to a cafe to offer more food options.
Mr Walker hit back at suggestions the zoo was unkempt, stating staff worked as normal over the Christmas-New Year period, including feeding animals on Christmas Day.
“The ponds and the whole creek system downstream were significantly cleaned out two years ago, however during dry weather periods over summer with low water flows there is only a minimum amount of water that can be used environmentally for the ponds,” Mr Walker said.
“There have been many positive comments about the zoo over the past few months with new animals.”
The Wagga zoo is a popular free facility at Botanic Gardens, drawing 13,000 visitors in September 2015 and 5000 visitors in the first two weeks of the current school holiday period.