Australia’s favourite kangaroo Skippy turns 50
At a “furry” special event today, Featherdale Wildlife Park paid tribute to the overwhelmingly popular Australian TV Series, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo which aired its pilot episode, “Skippy, Man From Space” 50 years ago in 1966.
This pilot spawned the worldwide hit TV series, which went on to air in 128 countries and was translated into 25 languages. It also began an international love affair with the iconic kangaroo and with Australia which was linked to a rise in tourism and immigration even after the show finished in the early ‘70s.
“As home to the largest collection of native Australian animals in the world, including many species of kangaroo, Featherdale Wildlife Park is honoured to host this event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the enduring TV series, “Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo” and also pay tribute to Bruce and Margaret Kubbere who founded the Park in 1972,” said Glenn Willis, CEO of Elanor Investors Group, owners of Featherdale Wildlife Park. “Through their work, millions of visitors from Australia and overseas have been able to learn about these amazing animals and better understand the important conservation work being carried out by the Featherdale team.”
Tony Bonner, best known as Flight Ranger, Jerry King on the hugely popular TV series, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was at the event to speak to guests about his role on the popular TV show. He was given the “Keys to the Park” by Featherdale’s General Curator, Chad Staples ensuring lifetime free entry to the Park, to recognise his role in bringing awareness of Australia and our iconic animals to the world.
Bonner has gone on to star in numerous TV shows and more than 40 feature films here and overseas. He also trains young actors and has recently collaborated on a book on World War 1.
A plaque was presented to Bruce and Margaret Kubbere who opened Featherdale in 1972 on Margaret’s parents’ 7-acre plot, which had previously operated as a poultry farm. Trained in fauna, Bruce focused on the growth of the natural environment, which housed their burgeoning wildlife park. The Kubbere’s no longer own the Park but have taken an ongoing interest in its’ operations and still visit the Park regularly.
Not only does the Park have a connection to Skippy, having helped resettle some of the animals that stayed on at the fictional “Waratah Park,” but it also has been home to several other Australian celebrity animals including Fatso the wombat from “A Country Practice,” the koala which featured in the famous 1980s Qantas print campaign and Archer the Koala – recently voted the cutest animal in Australia in a poll run by travel booking website, Experience Oz!
Local MP, Ray Williams, State Member for Castle Hill and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for Western Sydney, was on hand to help mark the event as were 20 students from a Kindergarten class at nearby Glenhaven Public School.
Featherdale Wildlife Park is set on seven acres of land in Doonside in Sydney’s West and is open 9am to 5pm daily.
The Park is owned by Elanor Investors Group. Through innovation, Featherdale has developed into one of Australia’s finest tourist attractions in Greater Western Sydney and has played an important part in the growth of tourism, not only in the immediate region, but the whole of New South Wales and Australia.
Featherdale has a commitment to animal and environmental education. The Wildlife Education Program is well established and very successful including the “Learning Burrow”, an open-air amphitheatre with seating for up to 90 students and the “Wildlife Wanderer”, Featherdale’s mobile education program.