EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 2, 2013

Up from Down Under

Stone Zoo hosts koalas and budgies in Aussie Adventure wildlife exhibit

Photo Essay By Staff Photographer Mary Schwalm
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Plane ticket, sch-plane ticket. If you want to see awesome Australian wildlife, you needn’t travel any further than Stone Zoo.

Yes, up from Down Under for a trip to Stoneham are koalas, budgies, a Bennett’s wallaby and other Aussie guests.

“We are thrilled to present this exciting opportunity for people to learn more about the rich and unique biodiversity of Australia,” said John Linehan, CEO and president of the facility’s parent company, Zoo New England.

“This is an incredible opportunity to discover the remarkable wildlife from this part of the world, as well as the role that these animals play in the ecosystem,” he added, promising that visitors of all ages will be delighted by the exhibition.

Due to its geographic location and remoteness from other continents, Australia is known for a wide range of unique wildlife that have specially adapted to climates including the outback, which can be particularly harsh.

Stone Zoo is the only zoo in New England where visitors can see koalas this summer, Linehan said.

Koalas are herbivorous marsupials that primarily eat eucalyptus leaves, and are adapted to living in tree canopies. In the wild, koalas only are found in Australia;, in the east from northern Queensland to southwest Victoria, which have cool temperate to tropical climates.

The Budgerigars exhibit is an interactive experience for zoo guests, who can stroll through the free-flight space among brightly colored budgies, as they are affectionately called. These small, slender parrots with long, tapering tails also are known as grass parakeets. Guests even can buy seed sticks and feed the birds.

“One of the things that I’ve observed is an intense craving for people to interact with animals and this is a positive way for them to do so,” Linehan sid. “It’s a great way to introduce people, especially children, to birds. You’ll never see them more closely.”

Budgies are mostly ground-dwelling birds native to central Australia. Because of their popularity within the pet trade, they can be found in nearly every country. In the wild, these birds are greenish in color and have black and yellow markings but, because of their popularity as home pets, they have been bred for color variations beyond those traditionally seen in the wild.

Aussie Adventure will also feature a Bennett’s wallaby, tawny frogmouth and cockatoos.

If You Go :What: The seasonal exhibit, Aussie Adventure. Where: Stone Zoo, 149 Pond St., Stoneham. When: Through Sept. 2. :How: For more information, call 781-438-5100, or visit http://www.zoonewengland.org.