It was an emotional reunion when Steve and Linda Sass visited a couple of their "children" last week.
The owners of Tathra's now-closed On The Perch Bird Zoo travelled to Kyabram to see how their young cassowaries, Adelaide and Gorge, were settling into their new home.
Kyabram Fauna Park took on the pair three months ago when Steve and Linda made the difficult decision to shut down their zoo following the summer's bushfire threat.
"We lost 80 birds through that [bushfires and smoke]. It was a lot for Linda and I emotionally," Steve said.
"We'd get asked why we wouldn't just leave them. How would you feel if you had to evacuate and leave your dog at home? Now multiply that by 900."
As it turned out, the COVID-19 lockdowns would've had a devastating effect had they not closed.
"We would've got through it, but it would've been very tough," Steve said.
"The real challenge for the zoo community now is the need to reinvent how things are done. With limitations on numbers of people zoos will have to revisit how the experience is delivered."
Steve said Adelaide and Gorge - now just over one year old, were doing wonderfully in their new home, although getting there was an event in itself.
VIDEO, PHOTOS: Endangered cassowary chicks settle in to new Tathra home
"It was on March 25, so we didn't know if the border would be closed [due to COVID-19]. The transport guy was also concerned about being able to get there and then back out in time."
Last week's visit was "a pretty emotional journey", but "a nice end" for Steve and Linda, who made the trip with two of their zookeepers.
"They would've got lost in a big city zoo - whereas the Kyabram community is very excited to see them arrive. They're in very good hands."
Adelaide and Gorge left for Victoria 12 months to the day after arriving at On The Perch as hatchlings. They were able to celebrate their first birthday with the community just prior to the zoo's closure.
"When we announced the closure, we even had someone come from Adelaide just to see us. And a woman from Grafton whose husband surprised her with a visit - she was beside herself.
"One of things I said when we spoke of opening five years ago was there would be no regrets as long as we tried, hoping it worked
"Well it worked. It's sad it was over, but it would've been worse if we hadn't tried."
While a number of the birds remain with Linda and Steve, the rest of their brood have all found new homes in nearly every state across the country in both private collections and other zoos.
In a lovely side note, several of the large enclosures were donated to Far South Coast WIRES for use as pet enclosures for its carers.
- Do you have a favourite photo of Adelaide and Gorge, or any of On The Perch's other colourful exhibits? Share them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org