Read about David Fleay the man before your visit…
Before you embark on any adventure or location it’s advantageous to get a little background knowledge and history, this adds to the layers of appreciation and knowledge you will acquire on your visit to wherever life takes you.
David Fleay Wildlife Park is no different, so I encourage you to check out the links before you go, get a feel of who this individual was and all he accomplished in his life time.
The park is now run by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services, the parks focus is on threatened species and breeding programs, with the end result being released back into the wild.
With that said there is also a strong focus on education discovery-based wildlife education programs at all levels of schooling from primary to tertiary groups, including the general public.
Friends of Fleay
This organisation is best described in the words directly from ‘The friends of Fleay’ information page…
David Fleay Wildlife Park combines community education, ecotourism; wildlife conservation and research. The Friends of Fleay describe themselves as a volunteer organisation supporting the David Fleay Wildlife Park:
- Through assisting on research and threaten species
- Educating the community
- Keep David Fleay’s dream alive
They are a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1987 and incorporated in 1997. Rosemary Fleay-Thomson is their patron, daughter of David Fleay. FOF have assisted the wildlife park with applications for grants and have successfully facilitated them. They have many passionate active volunteers who share their vision. Read more about this supporting organisation at this link…
Who was David Fleay?
Before going any further with the description of the park I feel it’s important to know who this remarkable man who is described as the father of conservation was. The Park was opened in 1952, although David Fleay had already made a name for himself 20 years previously with leading an expedition into the Tasmanian Wilderness looking for thylacines (Tasmanian Tigers) and in 1933 photographed and filmed the last living Tasmanian tiger in the Hobart Zoo.
The event that is foremost in most people’s mind is his successful breeding in captivity of the platypus. It made world news and climaxed with a visit to the Bronx Zoo in …read more about his remarkable life at this link
A personal perspective, and what others thought of him
However from a personal perspective, I remembered as a child if there were any sick or injured native animals you went to Fleay’s, in fact if I’m not mistaken they would come out to you. (This was the seventies)
One incident that springs to mind was one evening while going to bed early, there was a loud knocking under the house floor boards, and it was intermittent and every time I complained to my parents about it no noise was heard. (Everyone thought I was going a little crazy).
I knew I was sane so in the morning I went to investigate, low and behold there was a reason for all that noise, a giant moth, a wood moth was laying her eggs, under the house. We contacted Fleay’s and they asked us to put the moth in a shoes box along with some of her eggs and bring her over. I don’t recall the end result, but remember they were quite excited about the find.
|David Fleay Nature’s Gentleman words from his son Stephen J Fleay, talking about his father…|
Another occasion with David Fleay was conveyed by my father now in his eighties who worked at a company called Miami Glass; ‘David Fleay would very often come in for glass to be cut for one of his animal displays.
He was always known as a true gentleman, at all times wearing a suit and tie along with his wide brimmed Trilby Hat, looking back he would have resembled a character out of Indiana Jones’.
Knowing that he still dressed like that in the seventies, in today’s marketing environment it would be described as ‘branding’ but in David Fleay case he was just a true gentleman being authentic and focused on the preservation of Australia’s unique wildlife.
Interesting a journalist Don Marshall wrote of David Fleay in 1981:
‘Few people could wear more than but a few hats from the list of zoologist, botanist, teacher, naturalist, bushman, herpetologist, handyman, conservationist, falconer, author, columnist, photographer, lobbyist, public relations officer and plain hard worker—David Fleay wears them all with distinction’.
My father experienced David Fleay the handyman and bushman, we locals probably didn’t think of him with such flattering terms, because he was such a down to earth old school Australian.
David Fleay (1907– 93) is an integral part of the Gold Coast’s history his work leaves a legacy that should be preserved at all costs.
With a little bit of background in mind let’s get to the park now celebrating 60 years in 2012.
Where is David Fleay’s Wildlife Park?
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