Here at Flypets we often get asked “what is the most exotic animal you have ever transported?”
We have moved many amazing animals including cheetahs, sea lions, and recently two lionesses, but we did get a little excited when we were asked to take care of Kamina, a 20 month old Pygmy Hippo, as she travelled from Sydney to Darling Downs Zoo in Brisbane.
Photo Credit: Darling Downs Zoo
There are two types of Hippopotamuses – the large Common, or Nile Hippo and the much smaller Pygmy Hippo. Pygmy Hippos are about half the height of Common Hippos and less than a quarter of the weight of their larger relations.
Even though Kamina is the smaller type of Hippo, in her travel crate she still weighed in at 750 kilograms before being loaded onto her flight.
Flypets coordinated VIP airside access for Kamina and her Zoo Keeper, where she had her own quiet area to relax pre-flight. She was kept hydrated and was fed some tasty vegetables by her Zoo Keeper right up to the minute she was transported onto the tarmac.
Kamina was loaded into her allocated stowage compartment on a flight direct from Sydney to Brisbane, where she was introduced into her new environment at Darling Downs Zoo.
“Kamina travelled beautifully. We are impressed with how calm she is and not at all fazed by the relocation”, said Director of Darling Downs Zoo, Steve Robinson.
Kamina is one of only five Pygmy Hippos in Australia – and she is related to them all. She is the only Pygmy Hippo now residing in Queensland.
She is at the age where she would naturally become independent of her mother and has made the move to Queensland to eventually be a part of a breeding program. This is critical to the establishment of a viable insurance population of this endangered species in Australian zoos.
Photo Credit – Darling Downs Zoo
Pygmy Hippos come from forested areas within West Africa and are semi-aquatic. They do spend quite a lot of their time out of the water. Their numbers have dwindled dramatically in the wild due to deforestation, hunting for bush meat and as a result of wars in areas of Africa. Because they are so difficult to find in the wild, most of what is known about this species has been identified through studying them in zoos.
If you would like to visit Kamina or learn more about Darling Downs Zoos conservation efforts, you can visit their website here and arrange a visit.
You entrust Flypets of course. Meet our latest Flypets Happy Travellers – Lioness sisters Makeba and Uzuri.
Makeba and Uzuri settling in after their journey with Flypets. Photo Credit: Perth Zoo
Makeba and Uzuri are 3 year old African Lionesses, and we were so excited to take care of them during their travels from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo to Perth Zoo.
A lot of planning goes into our Special Moves, particularly when the Special Move involves two Lionesses that weigh in excess of 150kg each. With Makeba and Uzuri’s welfare at the front of our mind, our Special Moves Coordinator Sarah worked closely with both zoos to plan the logistics of the move.
Makeba and Uzuri were collected from Taronga Western Plains Zoo and transported by road to Sydney Airport, where we gained airside access for both a Flypets Representative as well as a Taronga Western Plains Zoo Keeper to ensure the Lionesses were onboarded with the utmost of care.
Flypets Brett Headley, with Virgin staff members and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Keeper Photo Credit: Nick Cubbins
Makeba and Uzuri travelled on a Virgin Australia Regular Public Transport flight that departed from Sydney at 7.15am, which ensured that the animals were not travelling in the heat of the day. They travelled in their own airline approved travel crates, in a cabin that was air pressured and climate controlled, just like the passenger cabin.
Makeba and Uzuri being loaded onto Virgin Australia Aircraft
Upon arrival into Perth careful planning was in place to ensure the Lionesses were first to be offloaded from the flight and into Flypets care.
Our Pet Handler then delivered Makeba and Uzuri to Perth Zoo, where they had a process in place to introduce Makeba and Uzuri into their new environment, and a nice environment at that. Perth Zoo has recently constructed a new breeding facility and exhibit for African Lions, taking Western Australia’s ability to make a difference to global lion conservation forward in leaps and bounds.
The new $3.4M facility will house up to eight animals in the future. It includes special dens and holding areas for mothers with cubs.
Makeba and Uzuri enjoying their new environment. Photo Credit: Perth Zoo
Makeba and Uzuri will become the new breeding females for Perth Zoo’s lion breeding program.
Managed breeding is critical for this species which has already gone extinct from 26 African Countries. There are as few as 20,000 African Lions left in the wild.
The Lionesses are appropriately named; – ‘Makeba’ means greatnessin Ethiopia and ‘Uzuri’ is Swahili for Beautiful.
We look forward to following Makeba and Uzuri’s journey into motherhood.
If you would like to see these amazing Lionesses and learn more about Perth Zoos conservation efforts you can visit Perth Zoos website and arrange a visit.
Here at Flypets we pride ourselves on providing a unique service to pet owners all over Australia but often we are tasked with looking after more exotic animals for many of Australia’s wildlife conservation programs and organisations.
This was certainly the case last month when we transported a male Australian Sea Lion, from Sydney Airport to Sea World on the Gold Coast. The Australian Sea Lion or “Maxi” as he is better known, was being transported to Sea World to join a coordinated breeding program between Sea World, Taronga Conservation Society Australia and ZAA (Zoo and Aquarium Association), aimed at increasing the numbers of this vital and endangered species.
Flypets arrives with Maxi at his new home at Sea World
The Australian Sea Lion is found nowhere else in the world and their population is native to the rugged coastlines of South Australia and the southern tip of Western Australia. While the seals physical appearance is similar to other seal species, the Australian Sea Lion is unique in it’s breeding habits with females choosing to stay close to where they were raised and breeding only once every 18 months.
With Maxi being such an important traveller (and Flypets first Sea Lion), our team were determined to make sure his trip was as smooth as possible. Being three years old and weighing in at 62kgs, we had to come up with travel solution that would enable us to transport Maxi the 900km distance to his new home at Sea World.
“With the support of Qantas freight staff and Sydney Airport we were able to give Maxi the royal treatment, ensuring his flight to his new home at Sea World was a smooth and stress free one.”, said Flypets National Business Development Manager, Brett Headley.
Maxi the Sea Lion
On the day of travel our team worked closely with Maxi’s Zoo keepers and Qantas freight staff to ensure that Maxi had the very best of care with Flypets even managing to arrange to have Maxi’s keeper travel out on to the tarmac with Maxi. Maxi and his keeper spent time in a nice quiet area to prepare for their flight and upon arrival in Brisbane, arranged for his keeper to have quick access to Maxi. Upon delivery Maxi was greeted by Sea World staff who couldn’t wait to get acquainted with their new arrival, with Maxi’s keeper helping to ease the transition to his new keepers.
“When Maxi arrived at Sea World, he spent two weeks in our quarantine area but has since moved to our Seal Theatre area where he will join the team of Seal Guardians in our new presentation educating our guests about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling.”, said Sea World’s Mitchell Leroy.
Maxi being transported in a custom built travel crate
Seal Guardian is an educational presentation that will take visitors on a conservational mission to help protect the ocean from plastic pollution.
“Seal Guardian is an exciting new presentation which has a really important message about the impact plastic pollution is having on our oceans and what we can do to prevent further damage.”, said Sea World’s Curator of Mammals, Mitchell Leroy.
We look forward to watching Maxi develop as an ambassador for the protection of his species and spreading awareness of the importance of reducing pollutions in Australia’s oceans.
It’s certainly no secret to cat owners, that sometimes cats can feel uncomfortable in new or unfamiliar surroundings. If you are introducing your cat to your new home, then it is important to take it slow and control your cat’s exposure to the new stimulus. When introducing your cat to a new home, try to create one room in your home where you can let the cat out of their travel crate and allow them to explore these new surroundings at their own pace.
Ensure that the doors and windows are closed to eliminate them escaping the area and place familiar items such as blankets or toys around the room.
Another great tip is to utilise a Feliway diffuser. Feliway diffusers are a fantastic way to create a peaceful and calming environment which can make adjusting to new stimuli less stressful for cats. Cats communicate through natural pheromones and the diffuser works in much the same way as a regular fragrance diffuser, spreading this comforting pheromone message in the cat’s environment.
Just screw the pheromone vial into the Feliway diffuser and plug it into an electrical socket and leave to diffuse the pheromone continuously. Ensure that the diffuser isn’t blocked by cupboards or doors to allow for complete permeation of the new environment.
As your cat begins to adjust to the new environment over the course of several days, start to introduce them to more and more rooms in your house and monitor their behaviour. You can even utilise multiple diffusers to create that comforting environment throughout the house.
By controlling your cat’s environment and using a Feliway Diffuser you can decrease the time it takes to get your cat use to their new surroundings, which means more time enjoying your pet’s company.
Keeno (left) and Levi (right) explore their new enclosure at Zoodoo zoo.
The Serval cat might not be as widely known as their distant relations, the Cheetah, but these wild cats are some of nature’s most successful hunters. The Serval cat is native to Africa and can often be found near wetlands and savannahs. Known for their long legs, extended necks and rotating ears, the Serval is highly evolved to hunt in the long grasses and reeds with its perfect spotted camouflage.
Last month Flypets had the pleasure of transporting not one, but two of these amazing animals. The male Serval cats, Keeno and Levi were flying out of Melbourne airport and were on their way to their new home at Zoodoo Zoo in Tasmania.
The Servals flew in style with special travel crates that allowed them to view their surroundings, receive plenty of airflow and have access to a constant supply of fresh water.
Flypets Pet Handler, David Garvey poses for a photo while checking on Keeno and Levi before their flight.
The Servals destination was a purpose-built enclosure constructed at Zoodoo Zoo and has been created to meet the Servals every need with large logs, tall branches and numerous high up ledges, perfect for perching on and sunbathing.
“Keeno and Levi have adapted to their new surroundings exceptionally well and both were eager to explore their enclosure and climb trees and branches when first released. The two boys will eagerly approach staff to receive lots of pats and cuddles and cannot resist playing with the toys they always bring too”, Elyshia Wignell, Exotic Animal Leader at Zoodoo Zoo.
Levi (left) and Keeno (right) explore their new enclosure after their flight from Melbourne.
While Servals are often considered solitary animals in the wild these two handsome cats are becoming more accustomed to having company.
“Keeno is the more dominant of the two Servals and Levi can be seen sometimes hanging back a little when Keeno is playing with the keepers. However, Levi is very confident, smoochy and absolutely adores attention, said Elyshia.
While it is more common for us here at Flypets to transport cats of the domestic variety, the last 18 months have seen us involved in the transport of two White Lions, Caracals, Cheetahs and even a Snow Leopard.
“Our experience with Flypets was wonderful, from organising the booking, to the animal’s care…we had no problems with the service we received. The entire Flypets team has been a pleasure to deal with from start to finish and we would have no hesitation with sending or receiving animals through this service”, said Elyshia.
Keeno playing among the various logs and perches in his purpose-built enclosure.
Zoodoo Zoo offers the chance to get up close and personal with a wide variety of animals. Offering the chance to “get closer to most animals than you ever thought possible”, Zoodoo Zoo is the perfect destination for a fun family animal experience. If you would like to have your own Serval experience, please click through to Zoodoo zoo’s website in the link below for more information.
On my recent trip to Melbourne, I was invited to visit the Flypets headquarters at Tullamarine airport. What a great opportunity to see a pet transport service in operation. They even had my coffee order waiting on me when I arrived. Service for people and pets! Here’s an account of my visit…
Meeting some of the Flypets workers!
Who are Flypets?
Do you ever travel with your pet? By air? What would you do if you had to relocate to another town or city or even country? If you love your pet, I’m sure that you’d want to take them with you. This is where Flypets comes in.
Flypets have specialist teams to handle animal travel and I met a representative from each of these teams:
The domestic team handles state to state transport, which covers families going on holidays or moving with their pets, helping with rescue partners transport and providing a service for certified and lawful breeders.
The international team work with customers relocating overseas or in some cases, adventure seekers who are travelling with their pets on holidays.
The corporate team, who are highly specialised experts and provide a personalised service for the world’s most respected zoos and aquarium. Given the exotic and often endangered nature of these species, each transport is tailored specifically to the client and the animal’s needs. (Just iin case you need to transport a tiger!)
The import team assists with clients immigrating to Australia with their pets, providing information about quarantine and country import regulations.
Flypets have grown and grown over the years but still retains the comforting feel of a family business. I was impressed by the level of customer service, from the initial call, right through to providing individual care for you and your pet’s (or your tiger!) needs.
Concern for animals
Obviously, pet parents worry when their pet is being transported. And Flypets take the welfare of their pets during transport seriously.
Strict processes and procedures are in place to ensure the welfare, comfort and safety of all animals in their care. This includes staff veterinarians, experienced pet handlers, all animal facilities, and customised services, to ensure that each unique travellers needs are addressed. A dedicated pet travel consultant even monitors the weather at major airports across Australia in case of extreme weather instances.
I was impressed at the levels of security. Just having a carry case was not enough security for the pet. Each case was secured with numerous cable ties to ensure that no pet could escape during transportation. Even just going from room to room, pets were secured.
Travelling with animal handler Dave Higgins and pets in transit, at Flypets animal transit facilities.
Pets in transit
I toured the animal transit facilities and my thoughts are that I’d like to check in next time I have time to spare at an airport! Pet owners can bring their pets here directly prior to travel and Flypets will take care of all their transportation needs (but if that’s too difficult, then you can arrange Flypets to pick your pet up from home).
Flypets transit lounge facilities provide an opportunity for animal travellers to get out of the crate, stretch their legs and get some cuddles and attention from the pet handlers. All pets are continuously monitored while waiting for their flights and each pet’s needs are met, whether that be medication, diet or extra exercise.
Cats and dogs are kept separately and, while I was there, the animal handlers turned the cats’ cages away from any dogs in the vicinity to prevent any direct visual exposure at the airport transit facility. Dogs are walked on grassy areas around the transit facilities. Flypets Transit Lounge facilities are located at Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland and the company will interact with other reputable animal transport companies in other countries around the world.
So, why move pets with Flypets?
Flypets are aware of all laws and regulations in the country, state and area of your pet’s destination. They will be able to advise you ahead of time what you need to do to make your journey as smooth as possible. For example, if your pet needs vaccination prior to travel.
Flypets will deliver an appropriately sized crate to your home for your pet to get used to being in a carry case. This ensures that your pet has the greatest chance of travelling stress-free, as they will be accustomed to their crate and it will feel like a secure home. Flypets have a video to help you get your pet used to the crate (see below).
Flypets have vets at its transit centres, ensuring that your pet is healthy during travel.
Your pet will have a transit lounge to retire to, in case of flight delays or longer transit times. Just like you may enjoy access to a flight lounge, your pet will be exercised, fed and comfortable. For example, if your pet’s flight is delayed, the animal handlers will bring your pet back to the transit centre to stay until the flight is ready to depart.
If your pet needs care during their transit, then Flypets will handle it. If your cat poops, just prior to being loaded on the plane, for example, if you are solely responsible, then you may be called off your flight to attend to your cat (missing your flight in the process!). Easier to have a Flypets handler deal with it.
Your pets can be taken care of from home to home. They can be picked up from you, delivered to quarantine facilities (if required) and transported to your ultimate destination. Peace of mind for you.
Flypets offer a safe, comfortable and convenient transport service for your pet. More than this, however, they offer peace of mind for you, the pet owner. Next time you travel, consider using a pet transport company, like Flypets, for your pet.
Dr Jo Righetti and her pup Chilli relaxing in the park
Interpreting our beloved pet’s behaviour can sometimes be a puzzling challenge for the untrained and until our dogs are able to talk to us, (fingers crossed for soon), it’s best to rely on advice from professionals. Dr Jo Righetti is one of Australia’s leading pet behaviourists and has been providing pet lovers with insightful professional advice on their pets for over 20 years.
With Dr Jo Righetti joining us as a sponsor for the Flypets Companion Animal Rescue Awards 2018 we thought it would be a great opportunity to ask Dr Jo Righetti if she had any tips or advice for those wanting to travel with their beloved pets.
Relaxing your pet
Many pet owners report that when they are experiencing stress, often their pet will pick up on it and alter their behaviour. To ensure that your pet doesn’t take on your stress try to eliminate situations that cause you stress when at home with your pet.
“Pets may pick up on your stress, so try to remain as calm as you can when travelling or preparing to travel. Make written lists and tick them off as you complete them. Double check your pet’s travel arrangements in the lead up to the day of departure. Check their ID. If you are confident in your pet’s arrangements, then you can relax and begin to enjoy your travel.”
You might think sedating your pet during transit could avoid anxiety or stress but in fact sedating your pet can lead to serious problems arising during travel. When a pet is sedated they are more likely to have breathing interference or a reaction to the medication. Sedation also results in pets not being able to drink water provided in their crate leading to dehydration risks.
“Most pets do not require to be tranquilized during travel. If you have an anxious pet, discuss with your veterinarian ways to relax your pet without tranquilizers.”
Crate train before travel
Our pets can be more susceptible to stress and anxiety when placed in an unfamiliar situation such as a travel crate. You can show your pet that there is nothing to fear by spending some time crate training your dog. Flypets can bring your travel crate to your door in the weeks prior travel to give you the time you need to acclimatise your pet to the pet travel crate.
“Make your pet’s crate as pleasant as possible by introducing your pet to it in a gradual, positive way. Allow your pet to enter the crate on their own, enticing them with taste treats or a favourite toy. Place their bed or a blanket in there too. Each time they go into the crate, extend the time they spend there. Begin to close the door, taking care not to frighten your pet and, again, extend the time they spend in their crate.”
Watch our step by step crate training video
Introduce new stimulus slowly
Many of our clients use our services when they are moving interstate or internationally, often for a job or life change. Sometimes this can lead to a pet becoming uneasy in their new surroundings. Slow it down and introduce new environments or a new home to your pet gradually. This can lead to your pet becoming more comfortable in their new surroundings.
“When pets have anxiety or stress about any aspect of life, the best way to deal with this is through desensitisation. This means gradual and controlled introductions to the frightening stimulus. If your pet is moving to an area without a garden, for instance, then get them used to new ways of exercising prior to this change. If you have to set up a new home, then you may find it beneficial to board your pet for a few days or have them stay with a friend, while you sort out your living arrangements. Then you can bring your pet into their new but more familiar area where they have their bed, blankets toys and food dishes. And, of course, the most important thing in your pet’s life is you! Stay as calm as you can. Keep your pet’s routines the same.”
Saying goodbye and saying hello
Saying goodbye to our pets to go to work can sometimes be difficult but what about if it is for a few days or even weeks? The trick here is to make it part of your pet’s routine well beforehand to avoid the puppy tears.
“Say goodbye matter-of-factly to your pet. Practice beforehand if this is hard. Put your pet in their crate, say goodbye and quickly walk away. If your pet has had this done a hundred times before, they will not react. Plus, you can give them a treat to occupy them and make it positive. When you say hello, it’s difficult not to go over the top but this can create anxiety in your pet. So, keep calm and ensure you pet is healthy on your reunion and is safe when you let them explore.”
Dr Jo is the founder of one of Australia’s most trusted dog behaviour websites petproblemsolved.com.au
Doctor Jo Righetti is the founder of the fantastic pet resource petproblemsolved.com.au. With loads of professional advice and information on pet behaviour its your number one resource for any pet problems you may need solved.
Flypets assists in Olive Ridley Sea Turtle rehabilitation program
Flypets are no stranger to servicing unique animal transportation needs and when we were recently contacted by Sydney’s Sea Life aquarium we were excited to learn that we would be transporting a female Sea Turtle named, “Extra Virgin”.
You might be wondering, “Why such a strange name for a turtle?”, so please allow me to explain.
“Extra Virgin” is a member of the Olive Ridley species of marine turtles. The species are known by their olive-green hue…hence the comedic nickname.
According to the World Wildlife Federation’s (WWF) website the Olive Ridley turtle’s status is considered “vulnerable”. This is due to several reasons including how fragile their breeding cycle is, with hatchling turtles returning to the same place they were born to lay their own eggs once the reach maturity. As these hatchling locations are so specific and infrequent, any damage or change to their environment could adversely affect the entire species. The turtles are also impacted by plastic rubbish, commercial fishing practices, poaching and water pollution.
Extra Virgin will return to the ocean after she completes her rehabilitation period
With such precious cargo in our care it was imperative that we pulled out all the stops to ensure that Extra Virgin reached her destination safely.
Through consultation we were able to assist in preparing Extra Virgin’s travel crate to make it more comfortable during her flight to QLD. We also liaised with the airlines to ensure that she spent no unnecessary time in crate.
Extra Virgin was being transported to undertake rehabilitation for a minor injury at her new home at Sealife on the Sunshine coast. Once she has fully recovered she will be released back into the wild to re-join the rest of her species.
Extra Virgin Is placed in to her rehabilitation tank after her journey
special mention also needs to go to Flypets’ Pet Handler Kellie, who did a fantastic job of picking up Extra Virgin and getting her safely to the rehabilitation tank to begin her recovery.
If you would like to visit Sealife on the Sunshine coast you can visit their website here to get all the details.
There’s some new dogs in town at Tasmania Zoo in Launceston and things are going to get wild. Two brothers Dwama and Kondo and a female, Inda have arrived recently from Perth Zoo courtesy of Flypets. African Wild Dogs or Painted Dogs as they are sometimes called are one of the world’s most critically endangered mammal species on earth.
“Our team have informed me that they travelled well, safely and have since settled into their Tassie home”, said Perth Zoo’s Danielle Henry.
For generations humans have hunted the dogs believing them to be vermin while domestic animals have passed on disease like rabies which have decimated the population in Africa. The species, once numbered close to 500,000 and spread across 40 countries, have unfortunately now dwindled to 5000. Which is why the work being done at Perth Zoo and Tasmania Zoo is so important.
The dogs are a fascinating species displaying keen hunting instincts akin to a SWAT team, being able to lay traps and ambushes for their intended prey or chase them down over vast distances. Their signature mottled coat gives them incredible camouflage amongst the shady clumps of trees and grasses while the patterns signify individuals, with no two dogs having the same pattern distribution. Their satellite like ears are able to pinpoint sounds of animals changing direction which helps the pack track their prey despite not being able to see them through the thick brush.
While the three new additions to Tasmania won’t be a part of a breeding program, by performing this interstate transport these three individuals from Perth Zoo it will free up more space and resources for new individuals to be raised while also raising awareness of this important and incredible species.
“Perth Zoo champions the cause of African Painted Dogs. Our curator set up and runs an NGO Painted Dog Conservation Inc. which aims to protects these dogs in the wild. Amongst other activities he employs locals who conduct anti-poaching patrols and snare removal from the African landscape which causes the painful deaths of many Painted Dogs” said Danielle Henry.
If you would like to see this amazing species and learn more about the conservation effort you can visit Tasmania Zoo’s website to arrange a visit or if you would like to donate to Perth Zoo’s conservation efforts you can do so by visiting their website.
Recently Flypets had the pleasure of assisting in the relocation of two female Cheetah from South Africa to their new home at the Wild Animal Encounter Conservation Centre in Hawkesbury, north of Sydney. The Cheetah sisters, Ziva and Zane are joining a brand new conservation breeding program for Cheetah being established at Wild Animal Encounters.
With less than 7000 Cheetah remaining on earth, captive breeding programs are vitally important as insurance populations to safe guard against extinction of species such as Cheetah.
The success of the Cheetah Breeding Program in Sydney rests in the very capable hands of Wild Animal Encounter’s company Director, Ben Britton who you may recognise as the host of Australia’s Nat Geo Wild program.
Ben’s name has become synonymous with exotic wildlife education and throughout his 20-year career Ben has starred in several documentaries and television programs aimed at educating the public on animal behaviour and conservation.
“I’d like to thank Flypets, and in particular the Sydney team for their assistance with this project. The Cheetah have arrived safe and sound, and both animals are out exploring their new environment…”, said Ben.
Wild Animal Encounters is not government funded and they rely heavily on donations and the support of the public to continue their important work promoting conservation both in Sydney and in Botswana, where they have been working for over 10 years to conserve wild cat populations. Private tours of their Conservation Centre in Sydney offer the unique opportunity to meet these amazing creatures while supporting the important work Wild Animal Encounters does.
We wish Ziva and Zane the very best as they explore their new environment and we will endeavour to check in with them in the future to bring you any updates.