David Howells Fleay, MBE, AM

David-Howells-FleayBallarat Grammar 1921 – 1923

  • BSc, Dip Ed (University of Melbourne), Hon DSc (University of Queensland)
  • Endangered Species Naturalist 
  • Deceased 1993

David was an outstanding naturalist whose greatest achievement was pioneering the captive breeding of endangered species. He was the first person to breed the platypus in captivity at Healesville Sanctuary in 1943, a feat not repeated until 1998.

During his time at the Melbourne Zoo in the mid-1930s, his scientific achievements included the first breeding of the emu, several bird species, the koala and some other marsupials.

He realised the importance of endangered species early in his career when, in 1933, he was the last person to photograph a captive thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) at the Hobart Zoo. In the process, he was bitten on the buttocks, the scar from the injury carried proudly throughout his life.

During the 1980s, land owned by David and Sigrid Fleay and developed as a Conservation Park, was acquired by the Queensland Government. Today, that property is known as the David Fleay Wildlife Park.