Little wildlife warrior’s tireless efforts paying off
CENTRAL Queensland's resident Wildlife Warrior Owen Harris' mammoth efforts to help Australia Zoo combat some of its financial woes may soon pay off.
The inspiring five-year-old Yeppoon boy appears to be nearing this year's designated fundraising goal of $5000 - on top of the same amount which he also raised last year.
It comes after Terri Irwin in June revealed the popular tourist attraction was struggling to pay its bills following its temporary shutdown amid COVID-19.
In a special episode of Crikey! It's the Irwins, Terri explained the zoo typically spent almost $79,000 caring for wildlife each week, and half of its income on wages - totalling $400,000 a week.
While a modest donation in comparison, both Owen and mum Bluey Harris have become well-known across Central Queensland for both their love of adventure and fundraising efforts.
As of Sunday morning, Owen's dedicated Visionary Wildlife Warrior page showed the youngster was just under $700 shy of his fundraising goal.
The Sacred Heart schoolboy, who was last year named Australia Zoo's Visionary Wildlife Warrior, even went as far as to create a range of handmade merchandise to help boost his cause.
Speaking with The Morning Bulletin in May, Mrs Harris revealed a series of turtle bracelets, key rings, shirts and hats were available for purchase.
She added 100 per cent of the profits from sales would also be donated to the zoo's Wildlife Hospital.
"Everyone's really starting to come on board and really wanting to help. I think they see a little kid wanting to make a difference and so passionate, they just really want to support him," Mrs Harris said.
It seems the pair's inspiring efforts have left a large impact on the community, with some individuals donating upward of $200 each.
His gesture has also won him the praise of countless admirers online.
Maxine Macaulay labelled Owen a "shining beacon of hope for the future of our environment", while another anonymous donator offered the highest praise of all.
"Such an inspiring man! The new Steve Irwin! Keep up the amazing wrote," they wrote.
Owen's merchandise is currently available at a handful of local stores across the region, including Intersport at Yeppoon and Toyworld in Rockhampton.