ENTERTAINMENT

These Beautiful Twilight Concerts Benefit Australia's Zoos And Animals

The 'concerts with a conscience' feature some of Australia's best bands.

30/01/2017 11:57 AM AEDT | Updated 31/01/2017 12:31 PM AEDT
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The view from Sydney's Taronga concerts

A visit to the Sydney or Melbourne zoo is a popular day out for Australians in the summer. See the lions! Watch the elephants! Hang out with the meerkats! Watch... The Living End and Peter Garrett?

The popular Twilight music concerts at Taronga and Melbourne zoos are back in 2017, with a stellar lineup featuring some of Australia's most popular acts as well as a few international favourites, both old and new. Fans young and old will be able to find something to tickle their fancy during the long summer months, with the Twilight bill featuring special concerts from the likes of Killing Heidi, The Rubens, Kasey Chambers, Peter Garrett, newly-reformed rockers Jet, James Morrison, Martha Wainwright, Kurt Vile and Warpaint.

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Melbourne's concerts

Concerts at both zoos have been running for more than two decades, growing from small cover acts on little stages to the massive entities they are today.

"It had quite humble beginnings with a small band stand on the lawn. Maybe a police band, a cover or community band. Visitors would hang around late because it was summer time," Robbie Russo, from Melbourne Zoo, told The Huffington Post Australia.

"It grew and grew, it got to the point where about 12,000 people were trying to see this little bandstand. Somebody looked around and saw how big it had got. People were halfway up the zoo with no views at all."

In Melbourne, the concerts are held on the vast sweeping lawn of the zoo. At Taronga, guests are treated to a view of the sunset overlooking Sydney harbour.

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The view from Taronga's concerts

"It's an all ages picnic style event. You come in early, grab a spot on the lawn and have your picnic," Taronga's Rachel John told HuffPost Australia.

"It's not just going to a venue to see the band. The guests come in early to take advantage of the view and the sunset, to have a picnic on the lawn before the show."

But while the lineup itself is a massive drawcard, ranging from classics from an earlier era (Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons, James Morrison, Hoodoo Gurus) through to modern favourites (Tegan and Sara, The Living End) and bands still rising to the peak of their careers (Ball Park Music, The Rubens), the concerts are about more than just the music. They also raise funds and awareness for some of the zoos' most important projects.

Zoos Victoria
The eastern barred bandicoot

"We're three years now into a five year plan of promoting the eastern barred bandicoot. It's extinct in the wild in Victoria and we've been involved in the recovery of that species for 20 years," Russo said.

"In the last three years they've become a focus species for us. We decided we would get them off the critically endangered list, and we've been working to secure protected land, feral proof areas, to breed them and release them into these managed wild populations."

Melbourne's concerts are also raising funds for the Maremma "guardian dogs", which are being trained to be "bandicoot bodyguards" when the endangered marsupials are released into the wild.

"We want to raise awareness... we're a not-for-profit so the money we raise goes to those conservation programs," Russo said.

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Taronga

John backed that up.

"All the profits go into our conservation work, which is really important to us. We call it 'concerts with a conscience'," she said.

"We choose one of our programs to champion, get that out to the audience who may not be engaged with these things. We have this program called Wildlife Witness, a smartphone app to report illegal wildlife trade. It's a Taronga initiative with global agencies onboard."

"If you're travelling abroad and you see something you're not sure of, you take a photo or upload an anonymous report and it goes to our wildlife crime data analysts."

For more information on the concerts, see Melbourne zoo's website or Taronga's website.

Twilight concerts at Taronga and Melbourne zoo

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