Thrifty kids save up for Symbio tiger exhibit
BY GREG ELLIS
The Illawarra will soon have another major tourist attraction thanks to the thrift of children under 15.
Young “Wildlife Savers” are helping Symbio Wildlife Park realise a dream of building a big cat exhibit.
The first occupants will be a pair of year-old tiger cubs from New Zealand.
It all started in September 2007 when Illawarra Credit Union (ICU) launched a Wildlife Saver account that not only encouraged Illawarra children to save more than $1 million, but is helping ensure the survival of some of the world’s most endangered species.
Symbio’s John Radnidge and ICU boss Mike Halloran both had million-dollar smiles this week.
Mr Halloran said the credit union’s relationship with Symbio had encouraged children to put money away for their own future and to help save several endangered species by donating to conservation efforts through Symbio.
ICU has already handed Symbio $10,000, to help construct a new red panda exhibit and develop a breeding facility for cotton-top tamarins.
Wildlife Savers have kept track of their contributions at www.wildlifesaver.com.au.
Mr Radnidge said the next mission was to help save the Sumatran tiger.
“They are the closest tiger species to Australia. There are just 200 left in the wild,” he said.
“We are building a 900sqm exhibit. It will be the best on the east coast of Australia.”
The Sumatran tiger exhibit would be open for viewing in August next year, he said.
Symbio’s relationship with ICU was fantastic, he said, because it allowed children to save endangered species in dire need of help and actually see them.
Without ICU and the overwhelming response from children such important work would not be possible.
“Our objective is not to make money. It is all about making a difference,” he said.
Mr Radnidge said he also enjoys seeing the excitement on children’s faces when they come to collect their rewards from the online rewards program.
“It is a real feel-good account. It is a good news story because of the great social engagement for families,” he said.
“Our job is just beginning because saving wildlife for the future is an important social responsibility.”
Mr Halloran never imagined the Wildlife Saver account would get so big so quickly.
“We currently have almost 1500 Wildlife Savers. It teaches kids great savings habits.”