Raptor Domain on Kangaroo Island still amazing but 'private'

Chantelle Lehmann, wedge-tailed eagle Nellie and the rest of the Raptor Domain crew are looking forward to opening for private experiences. Photo Sean McGowan
Chantelle Lehmann, wedge-tailed eagle Nellie and the rest of the Raptor Domain crew are looking forward to opening for private experiences. Photo Sean McGowan

Staff at Raptor Domain wildlife centre on Kangaroo Island were very excited to hear COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions are being lifted in South Australia slightly.

Raptor Domain opened its gates to visitors for private experiences on Monday, May 11 and are hoping KI locals will visit.

The environmental education and rehabilitation centre was directly in the line of fire during the summer's devastating bushfires with the animals evacuated to safety three times in less than a month.

Owner Leeza Irwin said the private experiences were very interactive, educational and fun.

Keeping with COVID-19 restrictions, up to 10 people in a group can visit Raptor Domain at a time.

Pricing for these experiences will remain the same but the available time slots have changed, with four times available instead of two.

"We are hoping the locals will want to bring visitors and their families to experience these amazing up close and personal experiences," Leeza said.

"Anyone interested should get as many people as possible, up to 10 to join their group. The more there is the cheaper it is.

"This is the first time we have offered this deal, usually it's a flat rate and then additional for extras after two people."

People can check out the Raptor Domain website and email them or phone Leeza on 0401 348 925 to book.

"Seeing people walk through our doors again will add some sort of normality to our lives, as I am sure so many people are needing and enjoying right now," she said.

"It was very worrying for us and we were very concerned we may not have been able to open our doors again, if the restrictions for COVID19 remained in place for an extended period of time.

"We were already affected by loss of income due to lack of visitation during and after the fires.

"Thankfully SeaLink changed their bus tour itineraries to include Raptor Domain. The very successful #HelpThemOut #BookThemOut campaigns bought people through our doors.

"If it wasn't for these two factors we would not have been able to sustain ourselves and the business during the COVID19 restrictions.

Matilda the masked owl and keeper/presenter Blake Hutchinson at Raptor Domain are ready to reopen.

Matilda the masked owl and keeper/presenter Blake Hutchinson at Raptor Domain are ready to reopen.

"We had to dip into our personal savings to sustain three staff and ourselves until we could be back paid by JobKeeper and the stimulus package put in place by the Federal Government.

"A State grant for small businesses affected by loss of income also helped during our time of need.

"Having such dedicated and committed staff has also helped us and the animals in our care immensely. We couldn't have done it without them.

"Dave and I have enjoyed the educational presentations they have delivered for social media. I think it is a great way to keep Raptor Domain in people's minds and hearts.

"We here at Raptor Domain are all very excited to be welcoming intrastate visitation once more to the Island.

"Although we are restricted to 10 people at one time we feel it is only a matter of time that we will see our arena full of happy excited visitors, one step at a time."

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