The national broadcaster’s RetroFocus project has discovered a report about an experimental breeding program the Zoo ran in the early 1970s to encourage the Australian white ibis to roost in its grounds on Sydney Harbour.
Describing the dumpster divers as “among the most graceful and decorative of Australian birds”, the 19 birds from Healesville in Victoria were held at the zoo and were encouraged to breed back in 1973.
Today Sydney’s ibis’ population is estimated at 10,000.
Tip turkeys taking over
So, is the Zoo to blame?
Dr Richard Major, principal research scientist at the Australian Museum, has told the ABC that it’s reasonable to suspect the program helped the wetland-living birds adapt to life in the big smoke (guilty as charged).
However, he says environmental degradation – and the will to survive – are also a likely explanation for the growing population.
That said, Aussies have always loved an underdog – time to bow down to our bin juice overlords?