Zambi Wildlife Retreat is a welfare charity that helps animals; however the organisation itself was recently in need of some help. While lions, tigers and other exotic animals are lovingly cared for and live in peace in the sanctuary, staff and volunteers had a lack of equipment that could tame the wild landscape on the property.
Zambi’s resort-style sanctuary houses animals that have retired from the circus, entertainment industry, zoo breeding programs and private ownership. Operating more as a safe haven for these animals to live out the rest of their lives, the park is not open for public walk-ins, although they do offer exclusive, small-tour visits by appointment.
Co-founder Donna Wilson started the charity back in 2012 after a long career in zoo-keeping and big cat handling. Having worked with and cared for animals locally and in America, she felt there was a real need for a sanctuary in Australia where animals could retire once their careers came to an end.
“Zambi started with zero funds,” Donna remembered, “but we had the passion and drive. Our first rescue was actually a duck. I now look back at our Facebook post on that and laugh, and then look at how far we have come.”
The charity has certainly grown in leaps and bounds over the years. They now house over 120 animals – from big cats and exotic animals, to domestic, farm and native wildlife – and boast a rescue and rehabilitation facility, along with state-of-the-art enclosures.
With experienced staff and volunteers ready and waiting on site, some arrivals require more care than others. “The exotic animals come to us in quite good condition,” Donna admitted, “but many are old and need more special attention and changes in their dietary requirements. This is where our expertise comes in to play.”
As a registered charity, Zambi Wildlife Retreat relies solely on the generosity of donations, bequeaths, support, sponsorship and help from volunteers. Monetary donations are obviously super important to the organisation, as too the time and labour selfless people choose to give to help the cause. And then there are commercial sponsors and businesses that provide their goods and services for free to further better the retreat and its daily operation.
One issue Zambi was facing was the ongoing maintenance of their grounds and landscaped enclosures. While they had the staff to help, they didn’t have the right equipment.
“Zambi is on a large section of a 50 acre property in Wallacia [West of Sydney],” Donna explained. “Almost all the area and enclosures are grassed and surrounded with large trees. I had an old tractor with a slasher I would use in the open areas and then we were donated a small ride on and a push mower. I can’t count the number of line trimmers we have had to buy over the years. The small ride on could not handle the large workload once the old tractor saw its last days.”
Wasting an exorbitant amount of time and effort having to mow using deteriorating machines, Donna was desperate and so contacted one of Zambi’s major sponsors, James Mayo from Mayo Hardware. James reached out to Briggs & Stratton® Australia, who distribute Ferris Mowers. They didn’t hesitate in offering their support to such a great charity and knew exactly what ride-on would be best suited to help.
Donna was blown away, to say the least: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news from James saying that the company would love to help. I was so excited with the thought of having new equipment for our grounds’ maintenance.”
Briggs & Stratton Australia generously donated a Ferris® IS®2500Z series zeroturn mower. With its Yanmar 24HP diesel engine, advanced cutting system, IS fully independent suspension technology and Hydro-GearTM commercial drive system, this sturdy, and durable machine is built to deliver smooth operation and long life in the toughest conditions. Donna is used to being around some big beasts in her role at Zambi, but when the Ferris Mower landed she was awestruck.
“I could not believe the size of it when Rob drove it off the trailer,” she said of the Ferris IS 2500Z. “Rob gave us a rundown on the operation and then Jess, one of our volunteers, jumped on and was away without a hitch. It is so nice, simple and easy to operate and it cut through the long grass like knife through butter. The time savings alone is one of the greatest benefits from having such a superior machine along with the ease and comfort of operating it.”
Donna assured LCM that the animals in the retreat are used to equipment being used safely around them. Always looking out for their welfare, she said “it’s good to introduce new things to them so they are not frightened and therefore there is no stress”. There was particularly keen interest shown in the Ferris Mower from their male lion Kibulu, and Meekha, the tiger was quite happy to share her bit of lawn with the new equipment as well.
Sometimes it’s the little things, which come in big packages, which can really help. For Donna and her crew, the Ferris Mower is a Godsend that they are all so grateful for. “This is an unbelievable donation to our animal charity and it is something that will be in constant use,” she beamed. “And then Briggs & Stratton Australia have also offered a full service and back-up for the Ferris!”
With newly manicured lawns that are much easier to maintain, the future is looking bright for Zambi Wildlife Retreat. The charity is already working on some new developments and have big plans ahead for further expansion; all to help their beloved animals.
“Projects currently in the works are a new baboon enclosure and an additional lion enclosure,” Donna revealed. “Future plans include more primate, big cat and parrot enclosures. There are so many animals waiting to come to their forever home here at Zambi and without the support of our volunteers, donors and company sponsors such as Briggs & Stratton Australia we would not have come this far already. Zambi is now also constructing a World Class Native Animal Sanctuary at Dural for rescue, rehabilitation, education and exhibition of Australia Fauna and Flora. Called the Zambi Native Wildlife Sanctuary, this is a very new and exciting project that we hope the community will get behind.”
Zambi Wildlife Retreat are always seeking the services of volunteer trades people such as carpenters, concreters, plumbers, electricians, welders and landscapers. Corporate sponsorship is very important to help them financially, but also through the supply of products, materials and services.
To find out more and to help in any way you can visit zambiwildliferetreat.com.au