Blog

Tribute to Sparky the Diamond Python

By: Chris Hosking, Category: At The Museum, Date: 09 Feb 2014

Recently, the Museum said a final goodbye to one of its best-known resident animals, Sparky.

Diamond Python

Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

Sparky the Diamond Python, Morelia spilota spilota, originally came from Featherdale Wildlife Park in 2008 at which time he became a living feature of the new Surviving Australia exhibition. He would often be brought out for public presentations and was very popular at the Museum’s night program; Jurassic Lounge. His favourite pastimes included; posing for photos, eating rats, climbing and making people question if he was the “real thing” or not.

In May 2012 swelling was noticed on the side of Sparky’s head and it was later identified as a cancerous growth. Sparky was taken to North Shore Veterinary Specialist Centre and over the next few months received excellent attention from both the animal care staff at the museum and the veterinary staff at North Shore. There were many examinations, two surgeries and many weeks off display in recovery.

Sparky made a very good recovery, although tests showed that the growth would eventually return. Despite this it was thought the growth may not return for six months to a year, and it was understood that he would still be able to lead a very good quality of life. This being the case Sparky returned to the Museum where he remained off display for a few weeks and under close observation by animal care staff. Sparky went back on exhibit in late March but by late June his appetite had decreased and he was retired to an off exhibit enclosure. By the end of 2013 the swelling had returned.

On the 6th of February Sparky was taken to the North Shore Veterinary Specialist Centre for an assessment and it was decided that the best course of action to prevent any suffering was for him to be put down.