ALBANY — Chehaw Park & Zoo is working to do its part in an effort to support Australian wildlife impacted by the wildfires currently raging there.

For more than three months, brush fires have ravaged the continent of Australia. To date, more than 12 million acres have been scorched, 2,000 homes destroyed and at least 24 deaths have resulted from the growing inferno.

As the fires rage, so does a debate over the cause. Climate change leading to record drought conditions obviously has an impact. Others point to changes in farming and forestry practices. Aboriginal people there used fire to promote the growth of select food species and facilitate hunting of certain species. European domination of the region led to longstanding policies and practices related to fire suppression with unintended consequences.

While the cause of the fires is being debated, more than two dozen arrests for arson and hundreds of charges for carelessness related to the fires have been made.

Regardless of the cause, the environmental impact is staggering. It has been estimated that more than 500 million animals many have perished. For those that have survived, the future will offer more challenges. Australia is one of the driest inhabited continents. It also has some of the least fertile and fragile topsoil on earth. These factors will only make reforestation and grassland restoration that much more challenging.

One of the species impacted by these fires is the emu. The emu is the national bird of Australia and has a deep cultural symbolism there. One myth recounts the creation of the sun when an emu egg was tossed into the air.

In an effort to provide aid to Australian wildlife impacted by this disaster, Chehaw Park & Zoo is selling 40 emu eggs. The eggs can be purchased for $15. These eggs have been collected from Chehaw’s Australian Grassland exhibit. Over the course of a year, the 15 emus at Chehaw lay more than 200 eggs. The eggs are collected and cleaned for sale. The goal is to raise $500 for WIRES, Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization. Eggs can be purchased from the Chehaw ticket booth between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

This is a great way to act locally and impact globally.

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