Moonlit Sanctuary is involved in several conservation breeding programs:

  • Southern (formally eastern) bettong
  • Tasmanian devil
  • Bush stone curlew
  • Spot-tail quoll
  • Orange-bellied parrot
  • Squirrel glider
  • Yellow-bellied glider
  • Black-winged stilt
  • White-browed woodswallow
  • Sacred kingfisher

Tasmanian Devil - Sarcophilus harrisii


The ultimate aim of conservation breeding is reintroduction of endangered species into the wild. To date Moonlit Sanctuary have bred orange-bellied parrots, bush stone-curlews and Julia Creek dunnarts  for release in reintroduction projects. The Reintroduction Specialist Group supports reintroduction projects across the Oceania region. You can find out more about reintroduction programs in our region by visiting the Reintroductions Australia website.

Southern Bettong - Bettongia gaimardi

Also known as eastern or Tasmanian bettongs, southern bettongs were formerly widespread in the high rainfall coastal regions between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. They became extinct on the mainland by 1890, presumably because of predation by introduced foxes, leaving the only remaining wild southern bettongs in Tasmania. Moonlit Sanctuary brought two bettongs together in 2001 to investigate their husbandry, educate locals about this long-extinct species, and start an insurance population. They are a firm favourite on evening tours.

They had their first pouch young in 2002, and we are currently looking at importing further animals from Tasmania, as the recent establishment of foxes on that island has made the threat to southern bettongs even greater.

Conservation status:

  • Victoria: Extinct
  • Global: Near threatened

Moonlit Sanctuary has bred about 20 bettongs and staff have published a husbandry manual about their care.

Tasmanian devil - Sarcophilus harrisii


Tasmanian devils face extinction in the wild because of a contagious cancer they acquired about 15 years ago. The number of devils have declined to 10% of their original number, and the decline continues. In response a managed population of around 500 animals has been established in wildlife parks and zoos across Australia.


Conservation Status:

  • Global: Endangered

Moonlit Sanctuary is part of the recovery program and houses post reproductive animals on behalf of the program.

Bush Stone Curlew - Burhinus grallarius

The Bush Stone-curlew is also known as the Bush Thick-knee. It is a ground-dwelling bird, mainly nocturnal, which puts it at risk to predation by foxes and cats.

Once quite common, the bush stone-curlew is now listed as endangered in Victoria and New South Wales, and is extinct locally. Both predation by foxes and habitat loss have seen a significant decline in this species over the last 50 years.

Conservation status:

  • Victoria: Endangered
  • Locally: Extinct

Moonlit Sanctuary breeds bush stone-curlews for a release program near Albury, New South Wales.

Spot-tail Quoll - Dasyurus maculates

The spot-tailed quoll is the largest carnivorous marsupial on the mainland of Australia and lives in forests down the east coast. It’s diet includes small mammals and birds.

Loss of forest habitat has seen a decline of numbers of this species. Male spot-tailed quolls require a home range of over 2000ha.

Conservation status:

  • Victoria: Endangered
  • Locally: Extinct

Moonlit Sanctuary manages national population of spot tail quoll on behalf of the Zoo and Aquarium Association. This includes managing the studbook to create the most appropriate genetic match and prevent inbreeding. 

Orange Bellied Parrot - Neophema chrysogaster

There are fewer than 70 orange bellied parrots still in the wild. They breed in south-west Tasmania over summer then migrate to the southern coastline of Victoria, including the shores of Western Port Bay 500 metres south of Moonlit Sanctuary, every winter.

You can see the OBPs in our stunning OBP enclosure between the Tasmanian devils and the wallaby walk. 

Conservation status:

  • Globally: Critically Endangered

Moonlit Sanctuary supports the national recovery program by breeding orange bellied parrots in a specially constructed breeding facility, which was built with the support of the Avicultural Society of Australia. In 2014 we saw the first bird bred at Moonlit Sanctuary released into the wild.

Squirrel Glider - Petaurus norfolcensis

Our squirrel glider colony delights visitors, and allows us to tell their story. Logging in their home range has removed old growth trees, reducing the availability of nest hollows.

As well as their educative role, the gliders have also been involved in two research projects aimed at increasing our knowledge of this species. They breed every year, and we co-operate with zoos and wildlife parks in maintaining a captive population.

Conservation status:

  • Global: Vulnerable
  • Victoria: Endangered

Members of this species are being held and managed under a ZAA small population management program.

Moonlit Sanctuary is a member of the Zoo Aquarium Association, and through the ZAA is involved with managed programs for several species. They include most of the species above, as well as the following species. While these animals are not currently endangered, managed programs ensure a genetically balanced population into the future.

  • Yellow-bellied glider Petaurus australis
  • Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus
  • White-browed woodswallow Artamus superciliosu
  • Sacred kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus

More information about Zoo Aquarium Association managed species can be found on the ZAA breeding webpage.


What do the conservation classifications mean?

The classifications were formulated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to give a better indication of the threats to species. It is used in the "Red List" and by most government authorities. The classification levels are:

Least Concern No current threats
Near-Threatened Not currently in danger, but potential threats exist
VulnerableSpecies facing a high risk of extinction
Endangered  Species facing a very high risk of extinction
Critically endangeredSpecies facing an extremely high risk of extinction
Extinct in the wildNo longer found in the wild, but captive populations exist
ExtinctGone forever

More information about these classifications can be found on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

"We hope that there will be fireflies and glow-worms at night to guide you and butterflies in the hedges and forests to greet you. We hope that your dawns will have an orchestra of bird song and that the sound of their wings...will dazzle you. We hope that there will still be extraordinary varieties of creatures sharing the land of the planet with you to enchant you and enrich your lives as they have done for us."

~ Extract from a letter written by Gerald Durrell to future generations, buried in a time capsule at Jersey Zoo.