Platypuses have been released into the Royal National Park for the first time in 50 years

The cuties are returning after being locally extinct for half a century

Maya Skidmore
Written by
Maya Skidmore
A platypus on a river bank.
Photograph: Supplied | Visual Content Team - UNSW Platypus release at Royal National Park

January 2024 update: GOOD NEWS! The platypuses reintroduced into the Royal National Park seven months ago are well and truly thriving in their new habitat. Ten platypuses were released into the area in May, after being locally extinct for 50 years. Each of the creatures carries an acoustic tag that pings listening receivers up and down the rivers of the Park – the latest data confirms that nine of the ten animals are adapting well to their environment. The tenth platypus has gone a bit rogue, venturing beyond the team’s tracking capabilities – the team says she's done this before, and they're confident she's exploring further-away creeks she has previously visited. Visitors to the Royal National Park are now regularly reporting platypus sightings. The team will continue to track the creatures, including measuring breeding success.


Platypuses are one of Australia’s most ridiculously adorable residents. With their duck bills, little flippers and all-round slightly magical quality, the sighting of one of them in the wild is, these days, akin to a small miracle (which is why the recent news of their discovery in Sydney's Hills District is so incredibly remarkable).

Now, however, the chance of Sydneysiders getting to see one of these cuties IRL has suddenly become (marginally) more likely.

The curious sight of this iconic semi-aquatic monotreme was once a common occurrence in the rivers of the Royal National Park on the traditional lands of the Dharawal. However, following a chemical spill on the Princes Highway in the 1970s, these gorgeous creatures disappeared for good – becoming locally extinct in the nation’s oldest national park for the last 50 years. 

Now, in 2023, five female platypuses were reintroduced to the Hacking River in the Royal National Park just an hour from Sydney city, followed by a group of five males. This very good news is the product of a collaboration between the University of New South Wales, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the World Wildlife Fund and Taronga Conservation Society. The project aims to re-establishing a wild sanctuary for one of Australia’s most endangered animals. 

Re-introducing the platypus to its historical habitat is important for so many reasons. With the platypuses returning, the dream is that so too will the health of their native ecosystem in the Royal National Park – while also ensuring that platypuses will survive the effects of climate change, with these delicate creatures incredibly susceptible to drought, habitat loss and environmental changes. 

As it stands, the many people involved in this project will be closely monitoring the brave platypus pioneers who have undertaken this big adventure. The animals have all been fitted with transmitters, will get veterinary checks, and will be closely watched to see if they survive (and hopefully, multiple) in the wild. 

So, Sydney. Cross your fingers and start manifesting. We want these platypuses back in town. 

But wait! That's not all the good nature news: 

This endangered seahorse was found living under the Opera House

Operation Crayweed is bringing Sydney's underwater forests back to life after 40 years of extinction 

Adorable bush rats are reclaiming Manly 

You may also like
You may also like