The birds are squawking, the snakes are slithering, the horses are neighing, but, most importantly, the people are watching.
After several years, Whyalla’s much-loved fauna park has re-opened to the public as the Eyre Reptile and Wildlife Park.
Almost 600 people visited the park on Saturday to check out about 350 animals on display. Those included snakes, birds, goats, sheep, horses and even a crocodile.
The park features a walk-through aviary, petting zoo and snake room.
Owner Scott Grant, his wife Jasmine and some volunteers have been working to restore the park since February.
He said the opening was a ‘huge occasion’ for the group.
“A lot of people were saying it was like a walk down memory lane,” he said.
“They were ecstatic to see it open again. We’ve had some really good feedback from the public and the animals are coping quite well.”
But the job isn’t complete for the Grant family and volunteers, and Scott put it aptly.
“Like Whyalla, the park has a long way to go before it is firmly back on its feet. But we are heading in the right direction,” he said.
For the school holidays the park will be open from 10am to 5pm, seven days a week. Once the holidays are over it will be open Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
School and other group bookings can be made for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the holidays. The park has also been a popular destination for birthday parties, where kids can get up close and personal with some of the animals on display.
Mr Grant said his four children were finally getting to experience the park as it should be experienced.
“They are loving it. Previously, we had a lot of machinery around so we couldn’t allow them to run about. But now they can really get involved,” he said. Eight people are employed at the park, adding to the local workforce. Volunteers from around Whyalla made a huge contribution towards ensuring that the park could be re-opened on time.
A volunteer day In May helped drum up interest. Residents are reaping the newfound excitement amid the squawks and other fauna sounds.