Page 4790 - Week 11 - Thursday, 20 October 2011

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In the area of concern about the role of zoos, I need to add that our National Zoo and Aquarium under Richard’s fabulous leadership is a key player in worldwide efforts to undertake important conservation activities for threatened species. This includes breeding programs for such species as the Sumatran tiger, the Malaysian sun bear and certain otters and cheetahs. As Richard Tindale said last week, the redevelopment plans for this zoo are intended to support these conservation activities. The way in which people will be able to stay within the zoo and interact with different animals will be an important education activity.

It raises interesting questions about just how interactive some arrangements might be, especially in terms of meal times of tigers, cheetahs, lions and the like. Indeed, I am reminded of Stanley Holloway’s famous monologue, Albert and the Lion, where Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom took their son, Albert, to the zoo and how Albert was, indeed, eaten by Wallace the lion. Hopefully that will not be happening here.

I commend Richard and his family and the staff for their vision and persistence in taking the zoo and aquarium from what it was some years ago to what is envisaged by these plans. I really look forward to the tree houses which will be built as part of stage 2 of the redevelopment. It will be great to go and stay and to be able to interact with the animals.

I think these are exciting plans, and they should be endorsed by all Canberrans. I look forward to the NCA giving the designated land and the local planning authorities and government assisting Richard to ensure that we can get this up and running as quickly as we can. It will be another unique asset for the tourism market in the ACT, and it will be fabulous that they will be able to continue the conservation work to protect those animals that are endangered in other countries.

Health—vision loss

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (5.03): Sight loss has a huge impact on people’s lives. Saturday, 15 October was International White Cane Day. This year marked the 90th anniversary of the adoption of the white cane by sight impaired people. It happened after an Englishman, a photographer, who had lost his sight in an accident painted his black cane white to make it more visible to others.

Most people associate guide dogs with blindness but, as I learnt last week, it is the long white cane that is the most widely used mobility aid amongst those with impaired vision. Used properly, the long cane allows people to detect objects and changing surfaces and so it plays a critical role in providing safe foot travel. I congratulate Guide Dogs NSW/ACT on the training they provide in the use of a white cane. This training helps visually impaired people to live full and interesting lives.

For people like my friend Liz Dawson, who has been actively involved in her community, the use of a white cane has made it possible for her to continue her valuable work. Earlier this year Liz suddenly lost her sight in only two days due to disease. Her daughters did some research and found Guide Dogs NSW/ACT would provide services to help Liz, and she has remained independently mobile because of that help. She uses a cane, which she fondly calls Emily.

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