Development of the Sanctuary commenced in December 1998, and entailed:
Construction of a modern, environmentally sensitive visitors centre.
Planting of over 10,000 native Australian trees and plants.
Construction of a 2 acre wetland with lake and water bird habitats.
Construction of over 30 animal enclosures and support facilities.
The Sanctuary opened in September 2001, and initially operated by providing night tours to the public. The lantern-lit tours were declared “magical!” as word grew about this special opportunity to get up close and personal to nocturnal wildlife that few visitors had ever seen.
As local and State Tourism Awards were won, and visitations increased, any funds were directed right back to the animals and their comfort. At this time notable breeding successes of rare and endangered species were:
- Eastern Bettongs
At that time, the only Eastern Bettongs on mainland Australia in the wild or captivity (outside of Tasmania). The bettongs soon settled into their large enclosure and began to breed prolifically at the same time as charming night visitors with their antics.
- Eastern Quolls
Though bred in South Australia, no captive breeding management had been set up in Victoria. Moonlit Sanctuary were the first to breed the Quolls successfully in Victoria since their last reported wild sighting in 1963 at Studley Park.
- Julia Creek Dunnarts
Intensive breeding was undertaken on behalf of the Queensland Government, for these rarely seen and critically endangered Dasyurids. A successful outcome being the release of approximately 14 progeny back into the wild.
- Squirrel Gliders
A healthy captive breeding colony has been maintained since 2001, and our progeny have gone into many other zoos and breeding programs across the country.
The Sanctuary now employs over 45 full time and part time staff and many helpful volunteers. The park has a considerable food bill, with insects, meal worms, fruit, vegetables, grain, meat, branches of fresh eucalypt collected daily, and freezers full of rats and mice. Having received no government funding or grants, this family business has continued to reinvest in enclosures, staff training, facilities and visitor encounters and experiences, and where possible investing in conservation breeding.