IT is an important time in the history of Nowra’s iconic wildlife park.
On Christmas Day it celebrates 40 years since it opened, and recently owners Nick and Corrine Schilko announced its name change to Shoalhaven Zoo.
The new name signifies changes the owners and staff have been working toward for a number of years.
“We’ve had our new name and logo done for the last four years but we needed to slowly increase our numbers of exotic species,” Mr Schilko said.
Feedback from visitors showed people wanted to see more exotic species as they already had reasonable access to native wildlife in the region.
“We’re giving the people what they’re asking for,” Mr Schilko said.
“We’ve got big salt water crocodiles, monkeys, buffalo, camels, exotic tortoises, Burmese pythons and exotic birds,” he said.
“For so long it’s been the Nowra wildlife or animal park.
“The name change to Shoalhaven Zoo is a big part of letting people know that we’ve changed and grown over time.
“To continue to appeal to our local visitors we need Shoalhaven and Illawarra residents to see we are no longer just the animal park they once visited,” Mr Schilko said.
“We’ve changed and there are a lot of new species here.
“If you visited us a few years ago, come back and have another look – I guarantee people will be impressed.
“The Shoalhaven Zoo has been a long time coming,” he explained.
“We are now considered a zoo, we fit into that category, we have the same type of license as Taronga.
“The key is for us to maintain our native collection while continuing to grow our exotics.”
Plans for that were already in place, he said.
“I’ve spoken with Taronga about getting some rhinoceros iguanas,” Mr Schilko said.
“We’re also looking at another monkey species in the future and alligators and quite a number of things.
“The park has far from finished growing.”
Mr Schilko has been working for a number of years on securing lion cubs for the zoo, and he is excepting their arrival some time in the new year.
“We’re aiming to get them as cubs, so up until they’re about 20 kilograms we can allow the public to handle them.
“We’re also hoping a company would sponsor the lions, they could make a great company logo,” he said.