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Biographical entry Fleay, David Howells (1907 - 1993)

6 January 1907
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
7 August 1993
Zoologist and Ornithologist


David Fleay was Director of the Research Reserve, West Burleigh, Queensland from 1952-1982 and sometime Honorary Associate of the Queensland Museum. He was the first person to breed platypus in captivity.


Born Ballarat, Victoria, 6 January 1907. Died West Burleigh, Queensland, 7 August 1993. MBE 1960, AM 1980. Educated University of Melbourne (BSc 1931, DipEd.). Education Department of Victoria 1926-34; designer and curator, Australian Section, Melbourne Zoological Gardens 1934-37; director, Sir Colin Mackenzie Sanctuary, Healesville, Victoria 1937-47, later consultant to Committee; established a sanctuary zoo, West Burleigh, near Brisbane 1952-82, when he handed the reserve over to the State National Parks and Wildlife Service. Writer of weekly column in the Courier-Mail (Brisbane) for many years and also wrote a number of books, including We Breed the Platypus (1944). Supplier of taipan and death adder venom to Commonwealth Serum Laboratories 1953-. Australian Natural History Medallion 1941; Fellow, New York Explorers Club 1979; Advance Australia Award 1984; Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow 1984. Founder, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. The giant frog, Mixophyes fleayi, was named after him.


Award - Australian Natural History Medallion, Field Naturalist Club of Victoria

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources


  • Fleay-Thomson, Rosemary, Animals First: the Story of Pioneer Australian Conservationist and Zoologist Dr David Fleay, Petaurus Publishing, Nerang, Qld, 2007, 338 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Anderson, Fay, 'David Fleay (1907-1993)', Australasian Science, vol. 20, no. 8, 1999, p. 46. Details
  • Balmford, Peter, 'Newspapers as a Source of Information about Natural History', Victorian Naturalist, vol. 102, no. 1, 1985, pp. 20-27. Details
  • Sutherland, S. K., 'David Fleay', Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 159, 1993, p. 82. Details


  • Medlock, Kathryn, review of Fleay-Thomson, Rosemary, Animals First: the Story of Pioneer Australian Conservationist and Zoologist Dr David Fleay (2007), Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 20, no. 2, 2009, pp. 282-284. Details

Online Resources

See also

  • Mirtschin, Peter, 'The Pioneers of Venom Production for Australian Antivenoms', Toxicon , vol. 48, no. 7, 2009, pp. 899-918. Details
  • Robin, Libby, The Flight of the Emu: a Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology 1901-2001, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2001, 492 pp. Details

McCarthy, G.J. & Wallker, R.H.