Chad Staples is the Managing Director of Mogo Zoo, located on 65 acres on the NSW South Coast. The zoo is home to around 200 animals, from large animals like giraffe and rhinoceros through to the smallest marmosets.
“Our big day was New Year’s Eve,” Chad said, with reference to the Black Summer in 2019-20.
“We don’t have the option of packing everything up and leaving so, no matter what, we will always need to stay here and defend, and that was our plan for the day.”
Chad advised the NSW Rural Fire Service that a group of 15 people was staying defend the zoo and its animals. The group equipped themselves as best they could. They had two tanks that held 2000 litres on the back of two vehicles. They had a lot of fire extinguishers, buckets, and wet hessian sacks. But it certainly wasn’t enough. They defended the zoo in whatever way they could.
“We certainly haven’t had any firefighting experience; there wasn’t anyone on the site who had ever fought a fire before and I don’t know how you would ever get that training. It’s just the understanding that you need a heap of water and quickly,” Chad said.
“We did not lose a single animal. The fire hit us from every single angle of the park, and we lost about 90 per cent of our perimeter fence all the way around. It got onto the property in many spots – burnt out tree-lines, burnt out paddocks. But it never affected any enclosure.”