Rescued Endangered Native Fish thriving at Western Plains Zoo

13 Nov 2020

Endangered Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon rescued and relocated into the Taronga Western Plains Zoo late last year are thriving in their new home, NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries Manager Maryrose Antico said today.

“These Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon were rescued from sub-catchments in the Macquarie River by NSW DPI Fisheries and relocated into two water bodies in the lion enclosure at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, so they have the best bodyguards,” she said.

“This insurance population was established at the Zoo so they would breed, and support the recovery of Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeons in the wild when conditions have improved following the recent drought.

“I’m pleased to confirm that these threatened fish are reproducing well at the zoo, with adults found in prime breeding condition and two different sizes of juveniles now present.

“DPI also has five additional rescued Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeons travelling from its Narrandera Hatchery which will be added to the population already at the Zoo to improve genetic diversity.”

Small-bodied threatened fish like the Gudgeons have been particularly at risk over the past summer and the rehoming at the zoo was part of a wider, $10 million commitment to support native fish through the drought and bushfire season.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Wildlife Conservation Officer Phoebe Meagher said the zoo was excited at the opportunity to partner with the NSW DPI Fisheries to protect the threatened native fish.

“We hope that this population will continue to thrive and we will be working closely with DPI Fisheries to manage this species at the Zoo so that in the future we can reintroduce these fish back into their homes in the wild,” she said.

The Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon is a small freshwater fish native to Australia and listed as an endangered species in NSW. The fish grow to 15cm in length and are generally found in slow moving rivers, creeks and streams.

Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon were previously widespread in the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan River systems and tributaries of the Darling, but the population has experienced a significant decline recently and they are now extremely rare in inland NSW.

NSW DPI Fisheries will continue to collaborate with the Taronga Western Plains Zoo on caring for and monitoring the Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon held at the Zoo.