Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Darling Downs Zoo off the market

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After making the difficult decision last year to put the zoo they founded on the market, Steve and Stephanie Robinson have had a change of heart, deciding to retain ownership of the Darling Downs Zoo at Pilton.

Since its opening in June 2005, the Darling Downs Zoo has played important role in bringing visitors to the district, as well as being a close and affordable attraction for people of all ages to enjoy.

Following some health issues for Mr Robinson, and the fact that he and his wife are not getting any younger, the Robinsons listed the zoo for sale online last year.

Mr Robinson said they attracted lots of interest, however were unable to find the right buyer for them.

“It was not what we were looking for,” Mr Robinson said.

“There was interest from investment companies but that is not what the zoo is all about.”

Mr Robinson said he wanted to ensure the zoo remains as a breeding facility for rare and endangered animals, as well as a family and educational facility that attracts visits from many local schools.

With Mr Robinson’s health deteriorating further over the past year, he and his wife have made the decision to restructure the ownership of Darling Downs Zoo into a trust.

Mr Robinson said new staff will be brought in to take a share of the workload.

“We will be appointing team leaders in each section,” he said.

The zoo has just begun advertising the new roles, including for a new labourer/handyman position.

Mr Robinson’s health issues combined with his and his wife’s growing age means the physical labour required to run a zoo is something they need from a new staff member.

“We’re looking for someone with farm experience, savvy, common sense,” he said.

Although the zoo had been up for sale over the past year, it has continued to grow, with new animals being brought in and upgrades to facilities taking place.

Mr Robinson said one of the challenges they faced after putting the zoo up for sale was that locals and regular attendees were “scared stiff” the zoo would close.

He said he the decision to turn the ownership of the zoo into a trust would provide more certainty to the future of the zoo.

Mr Robinson said he is very thankful for the hard work and dedication of all their staff, including zoo keeper Renae Radke, who has been working for them for nearly 20 years.

Originally from Biddeston, Renae started working for the Robinsons before the zoo even opened in 2005, just after finishing school and she now lives in Clifton.

She remains a key part of plans for the zoo and under the restructuring will become the manager of animal collection, taking on a more supervisory and managerial role.

Although they’re looking to wind down their responsibilities, the Robinsons are not going anywhere.

Mr Robinson said they will still live right next door and will continue to play an important role in its future. “The zoo is our baby.”

On Our Selection News 16 May 2024

This article appeared in On Our Selection News, 16 May 2024.


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