Australia Zoo started off as a reptile park in the 1970s and has slowly expanded over the years to include a reasonable selection of Australian, Asian and more recently African animals. You can almost trace the zoo’s expansion as you enter and explore the grounds. For example the front of the zoo near the entrance is all about reptiles- where you can find a selection of lizards, snakes, alligators, crocodiles, tortoise and turtles. A stadium style presentation area called the Crocoseum is located close to the reptile enclosures and is the site of their crocodile feeding display, held daily. Moving past the reptile section the zoo opens up to enclosures for koalas, kangaroos and a variety of indigenous Australian birds and mammals. Walking on towards the back of the zoo is the Asian animal section and the location of elephants, tigers and red pandas. Moving on even further is the location of the newest section to the zoo, Africa – where you will find giraffes, zebras and rhinoceroses.
|Savannah in the African section of Australia Zoo|
The zoo has a selection of food and gift stalls throughout, with the main restaurant located near the Crocoseum. The paths are well signed and a shuttle service provides easy access to the main attractions via five shuttle stops. The Crocoseum is also the location to collect your photos if you participate in any of the animal encounters whilst exploring the zoo. Free WiFi locations and ATMs are also provided at the main entry and Crocoseum.
The zoo has a broad itinerary of shows, animal feeding experiences and talks throughout the day. If you only have a limited time to see the zoo, customised motorised caddie tours can be arranged. There are so many (free) hands-on opportunities to participate in that it is well worth planning your day prior to visiting.
This is the home of the Crocodile Hunter, the late Steve Irwin and his commitment to conservation is still evident throughout the zoo. The zoo emphasis currently is on Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, crocodiles (of course) and wombats. The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is one of the largest wildlife hospitals in the world and takes in local injured wildlife. It can be visited for a couple of extra dollars on top of your entry ticket.
Stu’s Favourite Bit
I loved the new African section and although it is still a work in progress with a new cheetah enclosure currently being built, with so much room for development this section is only going to get better. The savannah enclosure is spectacular with sweeping grasslands housing giraffes, zebras and rhinos. No matter what else they do to this section the savannah will be the centerpiece and dominate the view. I was also lucky enough to see the new baby rhino explore the mud pools located on the savannah on the day I visited.
Go HERE to see a selection of animals found at Australia Zoo at Stu @ the zoo TV
|Feeding time for the new baby rhino
Australia Zoo has been expanding steadily in the last 10 years from an Australian wildlife park to a fully-fledged zoo and currently does not have a huge variety of animals that can be found at a lot of the big world zoos. For example they don’t house any primates, and apart from Australian animals have only a limited selection of African and Asian Animals. What they do have are some of the most spectacular enclosures I have ever seen in any zoo. In fact there is so much that is high-quality about this zoo that it is impossible for me to describe how impressed I was in just a few paragraphs.
Tiger Temple in the Asian section of the zoo is impressively themed. The tigers have a large space to roam that includes deep pools to swim in, platforms to sleep on and expansive grassed areas to run and play on. The theming leading into the temple certainly sets the mood as does the theming throughout the entire Asia section. You can feed the two Asian elephants at 10.30 in the morning and 3.00 in the afternoon. There is no extra charge for this experience.
|Some of the theming at Tiger Temple|
Water features and art work are impressive inclusions to the already beautiful gardens. All of the paths are well signed making getting around this clean zoo very easy. I would suggest that if you’re not too keen on walking, that you hop on the zoo shuttle at station number one near the entry of the zoo and ride it to station number five in Africa. The zoo is not a complete walking loop, and this will save you from walking all the way to the end of the zoo only to have to turn around and walk the same path back.
|Water feature at the Kangaroo & Wallaby Walk through|
The main show held at the Crocoseum at 12 noon daily is a lot of fun and includes birds, snakes and crocodiles – and comes as part of your entry price. Apart from the excellent shows held throughout the park, the zoo also anticipates crowd movement by having keepers with animals stationed at key locations during the day. This is a great opportunity to get up close to koalas, baby crocodiles, snakes, camels and some interesting birds. You may even catch a wombat or cheetah being taken for their daily walk on a lead.
|Crowd participation at the Crocoseum|
The memory of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter, is still a central part of Australia Zoo with images, statues and memorial displays looming large. Although like so many other people I admired Steve Irwin for his contagious enthusiasm in the pursuit of conservation it did get a little cringe-worthy when I saw talking Crocodile Hunter dolls for sale at the gift store.
I think Australia Zoo has found the perfect formula to be one of the world’s great zoos. Animal-friendly enclosures, entertaining informative shows, hands-on animal experiences, friendly staff all in a well-designed environment combine to make a modern zoo experience and I can’t wait to see what they do next.