When I say this was the highlight of my trip to Australia, I really do mean it. I’ve always been a bit of an animal freak and have been told multiple times I should work at a zoo, so I felt at home.
The Australia Zoo is magical.
I almost bursted into tears when we drove up to the entrance and the picture of Steve Irwin greeted us. Growing up with Steve on television, I felt like I was taking a trip down memory lane. He in large part sparked my interest for exotic animals at an early age and had me at the library picking up as many books as possible to learn about all the species. (I still brag about my ability to name multiple facts about different breeds of snakes, ya I know, weird) One of my bucket list dreams as a kid was coming to his zoo, his conservatory of Australia's wildlife.
As you walk in you realize this is far from a zoo. Sure there are “enclosures” but it felt quite far from cages. The zoo carries primarily Australia’s wildlife so the animals feel right at home on what use to be a natural preserve. The eucalyptus trees are all over the property and each animal area is designed to be very open and replicate the animal’s natural habitat.
Of course the highlight is the random clusters of koalas over the property that you can walk right up to and the kangaroo pen. I couldn’t get enough of the kangaroo and wallaby enclosure. I could of taken a second day to just hang there. Heaps of these marsupials laying around, grubbing and quite willing to be pet just there for you to be with. It was Disneyland on steroids.
Take a selfie with the kangaroo. Feed the kangaroo. Sit next to the kangaroo. Scratch the kangaroo’s head. Even lay next to the kangaroo. Seriously the most relaxed wild animal I have ever been around, unless you were that 12 year old who thought it was a stuff animal and could grab it face first with two hands, don’t do that. All the kangaroos are female so the aggressive males are no where around and there are a few helpers to show you how to feed them and interact. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to interact with these stunning animals.
The koalas were amazing to see as well and often there were people walking around with one that you could touch. Trainers often walked wombats on leads, as well as had small crocs, birds and other animals that you could interact with.
A highlight of the day was the infamous mid-day show. I won’t give away too much info but it was great to see the interaction with the crocs and the bird show. I was chosen during the show to have a bird fly to my arm and grab a dollar bill, bring it back down to the trainer and then return it to me. Yeah, I was in heaven.
At the end of the day we headed to the hospital at the zoo. There are two different tours you can do, the sneak peak or the behind the scenes. Do the behind the scenes. You walk through the halls and operating rooms and learn about what really goes on here. As koalas are the primary patient (over 4,000 come through a year due to car hits, diseases and dog attacks), you get to see the process of taking care of these precious animals. It was informational and we got to get really close to young koalas who were in recovery and see an adorable baby. Your fee of $20 goes as a donation to the hospital to help preserve these beautiful creatures.
The Australia Zoo is a beautiful experience of getting in touch with wildlife, learning how to preserve these creatures and just being a kid again.
Thank you to Steve Irwin for living out your mother’s dream of helping the wildlife and giving others the opportunity to learn. You will never be forgotten.