In this article, we shall take a look at some of Australia's top zoos and animal farms with pointers on where to go and what to look out for. Along the way, you are bound to bump into the odd kangaroo and lots of other weird and wonderful creatures, some of which can only be found in this part of the world.
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Top Australian Zoos and Animal Parks
Calamunnda Camel Farm - Perth WA
361 Paulls Valley Road, Paulls Valley, Perth
Western Australia is an unlikely place in which to find camels, but here they are, and not only can you see them, you can ride them too. Believe it or not, there are around 175,000 camels in Australia, strange when you think that they originated in North America. Before the truck, camels were relied upon in Australia's construction industry. They carried telegraph poles, huge pipe sections, building materials and all manner of goods to and from the inland towns. The fact that they could travel vast distances without need of water made them very valuable assets. Nowadays though, here at Calamunnda, they are looked after well and carry people, just for fun.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – Brisbane QLD
Jesmond Rd, Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane
Here you'll see large groups of koalas relaxing and munching on eucalyptus. There's a wallaby and kangaroo enclosure as well as snakes, dingo's, wombats, crocs and brightly coloured lorakeets. This was the world’s first koala sanctuary and has over 130 koalas just waiting to be fed and petted. You can even become a keeper for a day. Youngsters are encouraged to join the team of experienced wildlife education officers and help with the everyday tasks that the job entails. You'll get to go with the dingoes or wombats on their daily walks, get as close as you like to the snakes, and help out with the owls and koalas.
Melbourne Zoo – Melbourne VIC
Elliott Avenue, Parkville, Melbourne
An amazing day out with loads to see and do for the whole family and more animals than you can shake a stick at (don’t do that, some of them won’t like it!). Here you can meet over 300 different species from all over the world including elephants, tigers, orang-utans gorillas and, of course, koalas and kangaroos. There are interactive exhibits designed especially for kids and you'll get the chance to learn all about the animals. You can also find out what the zoo is doing to help save some of them from extinction, and what you can do to help.
Monarto Zoo SA
3401 Old Princes Highway, Monarto, Adelaide
A taste of Africa in South Australia, Monarto Zoo features zebra, waterbuck, hyaena, rhino, oryx, ostrich, meerkat, giraffe, eland, chimpanzee, cheetah, bongo, lion, and addax among others. You won’t want to get too close to these guys but it is great to see them in surroundings that are as near to natural as Australia can manage. Zoo keepers provide daily talks on the animals and you can go on various tours including the Zu-Loop shuttle, the behind-the-scenes tour and even a tour lasting a full day.
Cairns Night Zoo QLD
Cook Highway, Palm Cove, Queensland
For a very different and fun night out, Cairns Night Zoo is hard to beat. You are met at the gates at 19.00hrs and treated to a bush barbie. Then your guides take you around the park by torchlight. You get to see and hear the animals, watching out for glowing eyes and shapes in the shadows. It’s thrilling but very safe. The guides are experts, so they know where to go for the best sights, what to do and, more importantly, what not to do with the animals. You'll get to see kangaroos and crocodiles and you may even meet a bushman or “swaggie” and share some tea, and a traditional Auzzie sing-song around a campfire.
Perth Zoo WA
20 Labouchere Road, South Perth
Located on the banks of the Swan River, one of Australia’s best small zoos is just 5 minutes from Perth's Central Business District and is open every day to visitors. Although you can get to see all the sights in around half a day, you're best off allocating a full day to it; that way you won’t miss out and can get the most from your visit. Walks, talks and presentations are held throughout the day and you'll get to meet elephants and primates and the Western Swamp Tortoise – Australia’s most endangered reptile. You'll see penguins, get to feed a giraffe, and meet crocodiles and dingoes.
Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo QLD
1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Queensland
The late Steve Irwin's name is synonymous with the crocodile. He and his wife Terri filmed the TV documentary series, The Crocodile Hunter, which has been shown worldwide. Australia Zoo is not all about crocs though; every day there are live presentations featuring Otters, Elephants, Koalas and Birds of Prey. The “Crocoseum” is a must-see. You can hand feed the kangaroos, pat a koala, feed the elephants, meet baby alligators, admire talking cockatoos, see wombats and view, from a safe distance, the zoo’s magnificent Sumatran tigers as well as rhinos, giraffes, zebras and cheetahs. You’ll want to spend the day here so bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen, a rain mac, some water and snacks - and don’t forget your camera!
Taronga Zoo NSW
Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales
The best of both worlds are here: a zoo with views over the Sydney Harbour. To really make a day of it, take the ten-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. It’ll take you past the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Once there, you’ll be immersed in a world of wildlife with daily talks about seals, koalas, gorillas, reptiles, Tasmanian devils, chimpanzees, owls, giraffes, big cats, penguins and spiders. Become keeper for a day and get a behind the scenes to look at the workings of a zoo. Help them look after the animals and learn about animal first aid. It could even encourage your youngsters to go on to become zookeepers themselves, or even vets.
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