The University of New England’s Natural History Museum has a new exhibit: a southern cassowary. Only one problem: she needs a name.
Anyone can name the giant flightless bird – but must visit the UNE Natural History Museum to enter the competition.
(The Armidale Express rather likes “Bill”.)
Entry forms are available at the museum. Complete the entry form with all your details and your suggestion for the cassowary’s name, and drop it in the entry box in the museum.
The closing date has been extended to Wednesday, December 12. Entries must be received by 5pm on that day.
A three-member panel consisting of three UNE representatives will judge the entries.
There are no prizes other than the glory, satisfaction, honour and prestige of having the UNE cassowary forever known as the winning entry name. A small naming panel will appear with the cassowary.
Cassowaries are an endangered species found throughout the rainforests and nearby woodlands and swamps of Northern Queensland.
These large flightless birds play an important role in the dispersal of rainforest plant seeds.
Cassowaries are as tall as a person, with a high helmet on their heads. They have a vivid blue neck and long drooping red wattles.
The southern cassowary is found only in the tropical rainforests of north east Queensland, Papua New Guinea and some surrounding islands.
The southern cassowary is Australia’s heaviest flightless bird, but the emu is taller.
Of three species of cassowaries in the world, only the southern cassowary, Casuarius casuarius johnsonii, is found in Australia.
UNE’s cassowary was found near Mission Beach in Queensland after being caught in a pig trap several years ago.
Dr Hamish Campbell from UNE was undertaking a cassowary research project nearby, and secured a permit to have the bird transported to Armidale.
Intact adult cassowaries are very difficult to obtain, as the majority of deaths are caused by traffic strike and disfigure the specimen. So, although it was a fatal accident, it was a real find for UNE.
The bird was placed in UNE’s Zoology freezer room, and was used for modelling purposes and to answer specific scientific questions around its mechanical features.
Over the ensuing years, the cassowary remained in the freezer, its future undecided.
When Narelle Jarry, UNE’s Curator, Cultural and Teaching Collections, heard about the bird, she hatched a grand plan.
The cassowary would make a fantastic addition to the UNE Natural History Museum!
Narelle contacted Alison Douglas, Senior Preparator and Taxidermist, at the Queensland Museum.
They worked together to bring this cassowary a new lease on ‘life’, one that will enable visitors to the museum to see a cassowary up close, and learn more about this unique, native bird.
The Natural History Museum is open from Monday – Friday 9:30am – 4:30pm. It is in the Agricultural Education Building W077 on the University of New England’s main campus in Armidale, NSW. It can be accessed from Trevanna Rd, adjacent to Pharmacy in the McClymont Building on the right-hand side, just past the mural on the building wall and opposite St Mark’s Church. Entry free.