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Education Training, Environment

La Trobe welcomes three giants of the bird world

La Trobe University 2 mins read

La Trobe University can claim another Australian-first feather for its cap, with the introduction of three emus to its wildlife sanctuary in Bundoora.

The emus will today be released at the Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary at the University’s Melbourne campus, as part of its program to regenerate the 90-acre nature reserve that is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna.

The introduction of the flightless birds gives La Trobe the rare honour of being the only Australian university city campus with three resident emus.

They replace two older emus who spent more than 10 years at the Sanctuary and became local icons for students, staff and visitors, before they naturally passed away in recent years.

As emus are considered iconic animals in Indigenous culture, the emus will be welcomed to the Sanctuary with a special smoking ceremony by Wurundjeri elders.

The emus, Australia’s largest native bird, will then be released into the Sanctuary by La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor Theo Farrell, and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) Associate Professor Michael Donovan.

Professor Farrell said the size and location of La Trobe’s Bundoora campus meant it could provide a safe home for a huge range of Australian flora and fauna.

“La Trobe is lucky to have this important refuge for endangered species of flora and fauna as part of its Melbourne campus,” Professor Farrell said.

“These emus are a welcome addition to regeneration efforts at the Sanctuary and will provide another point of interest to the thousands of visitors we have each year.”

Sanctuary Operations Manager Olivia Swain said they wanted to reintroduce emus to the Sanctuary not just because the previous residents were missed by visitors, but because as they played an important role in environmental sustainability as they manage weeds and support seed dispersal.

Olivia said the emus would be able to roam throughout the Sanctuary, eating berries and seeds and spreading them in their droppings.

“Emus also target weed species like blackberries, as they eat them to the ground and volunteers can simply remove the remaining stalks and roots,” Olivia said.

Olivia said all three emus were male, reducing breeding behaviours and maintaining a sustainable population for the size of the Sanctuary.

She said the 18-month-old emus were sourced from a local sustainable emu farmer and were perfect for the Sanctuary as they were familiar with people, but had not been hand fed so there was no risk they would seek food from visitors.

About the Sanctuary

Nangak Tamboree (nan-nyack tam-bor-ee) means respecting, sharing and looking after the waterway in Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people. The Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary was created in 1967 as a project in the restoration and management of indigenous flora and fauna.

In 2012, La Trobe University entered into an agreement with Trust for Nature to place a Conservation Covenant on the land to ensure the native vegetation, including the habitat for plants and wildlife, is protected in perpetuity.


Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary has evolved to now be a high biodiversity node within Nangak Tamboree. This eco-corridor connects the Sanctuary with Gresswell Habitat Link and Gresswell Forest to our north, through the Bundoora campus to Darebin Creek in the south.




Nangak Tamboree Wildlife Sanctuary, La Trobe Avenue, La Trobe University, Bundoora 



11.30am, Thursday April 11, 2024 

Press to arrive by 11.10am. The release site is a short walk from the main entrance 



Charisse Ede


M: 0404030698

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