We visited Melbourne’s award-winning Moonlit Sanctuary and sat down with owner and director Michael Johnson. As well as a mutual love of animals, we spoke about exactly why animal sanctuaries are so important to conservation.
SP: What made you want to open the Moonlit Sanctuary and how long has it been
M: Moonlit Sanctuary opened in 2001, and is the realization of a childhood dream of mine for a Sanctuary to work for the conservation of wildlife.
SP: What sets it apart from other Australian animal sanctuaries?
M: Our absolute commitment to conservation, which was recently recognized by us being awarded the Premier’s Sustainability Award in Environmental Sustainability for our work with orange-bellied parrots. Our evening tours are also a unique and fascinating experience.
SP: What is your favourite animal in the sanctuary?
M: I am very fond of the southern bettong, a small nocturnal kangaroo-like animal that was wiped off the mainland by introduced foxes. They were one of the first species we began working with, and are delightful to interact with after dark!
SP: I noticed that the animals here seem particularly friendly. Where do a lot of them come from?
M: I think it fair to say that our animals are comfortable in their surroundings, have great care and are free from dangers. This can only make them more relaxed and willing to engage with visitors.
SP: What sets you apart from a zoo?
M: Most zoos work with animals from all around the world. We only have Australian native animals, mostly from around our region. This means that we can be far more effective with our conservation work, for instance, we are within the
natural range of the orange-bellied parrots. This means they experience their natural climatic conditions, we can feed them their wild food and so on.
SP: What is your favourite attraction?
M: I think our evening tours are an outstanding wildlife attraction which is unique to Moonlit Sanctuary. People don’t realise that almost all Australian mammals are nocturnal and much more active and interesting at night.
SP: What is a key piece of information you want to make sure people take away from the experience?
I hope that people leave with a sense of the wonder and fascination with our
wildlife, and an understanding why it is so important to conserve it.
Make sure to support the conservation Australian wildlife and The Moonlit Sanctuary by visiting and following them on social media.
If you’re really wanting to get involved you can even sponsor an animal!