Dreamworld plays a vital role in helping bilbies survive
BILBY twins Emma and Tashi are well cared for in the confines of the Dreamworld breeding program.
In the wild, bilbies aren't so lucky. They battle foxes, cats and loss of habitat for survival.
Dreamworld at the Gold Coast plays a vital role in preserving one of Australia's most enchanting animals.
Its captive breeding program is essential to the survival of the bilby, with numbers of these endangered marsupials now at a critical stage in the wild.
Working with the Queensland Government and Save the Bilby Fund, Dreamworld has bred bilbies for release into the Currawinya National Park, a specially set-up, fenced enclosure in western Queensland.
Vere Nicolson, the vet at Dreamworld for 11 years, says twins in the bilby world are pretty standard.
Triplets are "a bonus".
"There's always bilbies on display in the bilby house at Dreamworld," Vere says.
"We also take them out to schools.
"The bilby is just one of a dozen animals that are hanging on in the deserts.
"If you sort out how to save the bilby, you'll be saving all the others as well."
Co-founder of the Save the Bilby Fund, so-called "Bilby Man" Frank Manthey, realised in 2003 that people needed to see how beautiful the animals were - then they would be encouraged to save them.
"You can show people photos, but this is not like seeing a real live bilby," Frank said.
"I also wanted to visit schools and take a bilby with me to show kids what a beautiful animal we share Australia with, and to spread the message that we should all work together to save it.
"I was very grateful when Dreamworld agreed to house the bilbies that I
could use to visit schools and events.
"I wanted to involve everyone and make Save the Bilby Fund a 'people project' and Dreamworld made this possible.
"Dreamworld has become a major player in managing our captive breeding program.
"Vere, the Dreamworld vet, is an expert in captive breeding and managing genetics and, without him and the amazing Dreamworld wildlife team, our fund would not be in the position it is today."
Frank urges families to consider buying Christmas gifts to support the bilby by visiting http://www.savethebilbyfund.com.
Bilbies were common in many different habitats throughout Australia until European settlement.
Predation by European red foxes and feral cats has meant bilby populations now only occur in the isolated arid and semi-arid areas of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.