An ugly-looking Ibis that frequents the picnic areas at Healesville Sanctuary says he’s fed up with being treated like a second class citizen at a place specifically designed to showcase and celebrate native Australian animals. He says that while visitors clamour to get a selfie with a koala, and happily line up to pat a kangaroo, most of the interactions they have with the rabid Ibis population at the Sanctuary is shoeing them away and guarding young children from their long and intrusive beaks.
The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) is indeed a native species, but has a bad reputation in urban areas for scavenging in bins for food and generally being a pest. Their presence at Healesville Sanctuary is arguably the largest Ibis population in Victoria, as they stalk around looking for something, anything, to eat. Couple this with the fact they’ve got a head like a water-logged walnut, and you can understand why they are treated with disdain by most humans – especially at Healesville Sanctuary where families are just trying to enjoy a pleasant day out amongst the more popular animals found in our country.
Colloquially known as the “Bin Chicken”, scientists say the Ibis should be treated with respect due to it’s ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, such as the human destruction of its natural habitat – i.e. rivers and lakes. According to the Ibis who spoke exclusively to The Watsonia Bugle, “Do you humans think I enjoy rummaging through a bin to eat that yuck bottom part of a banana after it’s been fermenting in a garbage bag in the sun alongside your baby’s nappy? No, no I do not.”
The Ibis, who gave his name as “Ian”, said that the systematic destruction of his natural habitat had forced him and his mates into Healesville Sanctuary to hustle for a living. He said, “None of youse probably even realise I’m an Aussie too. You have to pay extra to feed any of the cutesy koalas or kangaroos in one of them special ‘close encounters’ they’re always spruiking, and yet here I am trying to have a close encounter with the arse end of ya salad roll and all you do is tell me to piss off. It’s a bloody joke!”